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PRESS RELEASE: Political Show Trial for 'Hong Kong 47' Begins

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

6 February 2023 – Hong Kong’s largest National Security Law trial to date has begun. Expected to last 90 days, the sham trial involves 47 people accused of “attempt[ing] to subvert the State power, paralyse the operation of the [Hong Kong] Government” in July 2020. The ‘Hong Kong 47’ were charged under the National Security Law, which criminalizes any actions that “subvert” the Hong Kong government, after organizing a primary election that involved 600,000 voters selecting pro-democracy candidates for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections. Hong Kong authorities declared the election illegal and in January 2021 arrested 55 people in the largest National Security Law-related round-up to date.

For the past two years, 32 of the 47 defendants have been detained and denied bail for their efforts to hold China to its promise of a more democratic Legislative Council in Hong Kong. They now face potential imprisonment for life. These political prisoners include high-profile activists such as Joshua Wong, Gwyneth Ho, and Benny Tai. Mr Wong has been repeatedly jailed for his activism in the 2019 protests. Ms Ho is a former journalist who reported on the Yuen Long attack by government-linked thugs against protestors in 2019. Mr Tai is a pro-democracy activist and former law professor at the University of Hong Kong.

The trial will be overseen by three-hand-picked judges with no jury present. More than 200 pro-democracy supporters lined up for the trial this morning at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court. Activists held signs calling for the release of political prisoners. Hong Kong authorities dispersed the potential protests and punished these individuals for “violating Covid-19 regulations”.

The CFHK Foundation urges Western government officials to speak out against the Hong Kong authorities’ continuing assault on global democracy.

The CFHK Foundation’s President, Mark Clifford, said:

“This is a show trial, more like what we’d see in Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao’s China than in a city that only a few years ago was one of Asia’s freest places. The 47 people on trial represent the true Hong Kong spirit – exercising the freedoms guaranteed by China after the 1997 handover. The Chinese Communist Party continues to break its promises to the people of Hong Kong and the international community as it dismantles Hong Kong’s rule of law and independent judiciary. In the Party’s twisted logic, an election to promote democracy led to charges against 47 freedom-loving Hong Kongers. The CCP is the lawbreaker, with its arbitrary arrests, detentions, and now, a sham trial, of Hong Kong citizens.”

British Human Rights Lawyer, Baroness Helena Kennedy, said:

"I hope the whole world is watching how the National Security Law in Hong Kong is being used to violate the human rights of all Hong Kongers and suppress free speech. The Hong Kong authorities and the CCP continue to violate international legal norms and should be held to account. I call on all British parliamentarians and government officials to take note and act accordingly."

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