HONG KONG – Two Hong Kong pro-democracy activists pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges related to an illegal assembly during anti-government protests in August 2019. Seven others, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai, pleaded not guilty.
Former pro-democracy politician and activist Au Nok-hin pleaded guilty to organising and knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly, while Leung Yiu-chung, another activist, pleaded guilty to participating in an illegal assembly. Leung and Au will hear the verdict on March 22.
The other seven activists on trial, including prominent Beijing critic Lai, Democratic Party founder Martin Lee, and veteran activists Lee Cheuk-yan, and Leung Kwok-hung, known as Long Hair, pleaded not guilty to the charges. The latter two shouted “Object to political prosecution!” when making the plea.
The 2019 protests had plunged the semi-autonomous city into its biggest crisis since the handover by the British. The protests were fuelled by a perception that Beijing was curbing the wide-ranging freedoms promised to the former British colony. Beijing has responded to the 2019 protests by imposing a sweeping national security law in June last year
Since the introduction of the law, the government has disqualified opposition politicians and jailed activists, while authorities have banned slogans, songs and pro-democracy political activity in schools.