September 1, 2021, 7:14 AM
Seven Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were sentenced Wednesday to lengthy jail sentences for taking part in an unauthorized protest in 2019.
The activists include such figures as former legislators Cyd Ho, Yeung Sum, Albert Ho and Leung Kwok-hung, known as “Long Hair,” and Raphael Wong, Figo Chan and Avery Ng of the League of Social Democrats party.
All seven men were present when District Court Judge Amanda Woodcock sentenced them for taking part in a massive demonstration in October 2019 at the height of anti-government protests triggered by a controversial extradition bill that evolved into a greater demand for greater freedoms for the financial hub.
Judge Woodcock said that while Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law, guarantees freedom of assembly and demonstration, “these rights are not absolute and are subject to restrictions ruled constitutional.”
The sentences ranged from 11 to 16 months. All the defendants except for Wong are already serving jail time on other illegal assembly charges.
The 2019 demonstrations prompted Beijing to approve a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong last year under which anyone believed to be carrying out terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces could be tried and face life in prison if convicted.
Hong Kong authorities have increasingly clamped down on the city’s pro-democracy forces since the law took effect last year.