Mar 4, 2021 - World

32 of 47 Hong Kong activists denied bail after charges under national security law

Picture of Hong Kong activists

Some of the 47 Hong Kong opposition activists boarding a Correctional Service Department van at Lai Chi Kok Reception Center. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

32 out of 47 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists charged for "conspiracy of subversion" under the new national security law were denied bail on Thursday after four days of marathon court hearings.

Why it matters: The charges against the activists were part of the biggest crackdown yet against the pro-democracy movement since Beijing's draconian national security law was enacted last summer, per AP.

Context: The group of activists were arrested last year and charged under the law for "organizing and participating in an unofficial, non-binding primary poll last July that authorities said was part of a 'vicious plot' to 'overthrow' the government," Reuters writes.

  • The sweeping security law offers broad definitions of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, allowing the government to freely punish activists with up to life in prison.

Details: The court hearings left several of the accused temporarily hospitalized due to exhaustion, "while others quit their political parties or disbanded activist groups they had founded," the South China Morning Post reports.

  • 15 activists were granted bail, but will remain under custody while prosecutors appeal the court's decision.
  • The court said it was bound by law to place the activists in custody.
  • The decision to have the accused remanded could result in them spending years in jail before the actual trial, according to SCMP.

What they're saying: "The denial of bail to 32 of these politicians and activists means they are effectively beginning to serve lengthy jail time on charges based entirely upon claimed hypothetical threats to national security," Amnesty International Hong Kong’s program manager Lam Cho Ming said.

  • "None of them have committed a recognized crime, but they have fallen victim to a national security law that deems people a ‘threat’ simply for the peaceful expression of political views and for taking part in the conduct of public affairs."

Go deeper: With Hong Kong arrests, China outlaws democracy itself

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