Five people will be sentenced on Saturday and face two years in prison for publishing books aimed at explaining the pro-democracy movement to children.
A Hong Kong court has found five speech therapists guilty of sedation in a series of illustrated children’s books depicting the city’s democracy advocates as sheep protecting their village from the herd. wolf.
Prosecutors accused the three picture books, which sought to explain Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement to young people, of spreading “separatism”, and inciting “”hate” and opposition. government.
Lorie Lai, Melody Yeung, Sidney Ng, Samuel Chan and Marco Fong, aged 25 to 28 and all members of the speech therapists’ association, pleaded not guilty.
They chose not to testify during testing or summon any witnesses when the proceedings begin in July.
Their lawyers argued that the charge of using sedatives was vaguely defined and that each reader should be allowed to decide for himself what the characters in the book represent.
They also warned that a guilty verdict would further criminalize political criticism and cause ill effects on society.
It is the first time the case of an ambitious publication has gone to trial since protests rocked the territory in 2019 and Beijing’s imposition of a national security law next year. The law of seduction, dating back to colonial times, went unused since 1967 before it was revived following mass protest.
The allegations involve three books aimed at children aged four to seven: The Guardians of the Sheep Village, the 12 Heroes of the Sheep Village and The Sheep Village Garbage Collector.
Their conspiracies involve a number of real-life events, including the 2019 protests. failed attempt by a group of 12 protesters fleeing to Taiwan by bullet train, and the strike by medical workers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic calling for Hong Kong to close its border with China.
In a summary released Wednesday, District Court Judge Kwok Wai Kin said all three books are striking, not just from the words “but also from words that have a prohibitive effect on the mind.” children’s mind”.
“They will be told that they are, in fact, sheep, and that the wolves trying to harm them are the Government of the People’s Republic of China (People’s Republic of China) and the Government of Hong Kong,” said Kwok, person on a national committee, writes. security judges chosen by city leaders.
Five people will be sentenced on Saturday. The sedation law imposes sentences of up to two years in prison.
In a statement responding to the ruling, Amnesty International’s China campaigner Gwen Lee described the sentencing as an “absurd example of the disintegration of human rights in the city.
“Writing children’s books is not a crime and trying to educate children about recent events in Hong Kong’s history is not an attempt to incite rebellion.”
Before the introduction of the security law, Hong Kong enjoyed considerable freedom of expression and was home to a vibrant media and publishing industry.
But the sweeping crackdown following the 2019 protests forced many stores to close, including the hugely popular tabloid. Apple Dailywhile books were removed from the library and the school curriculum was rewritten to include security law lesson for children under six years old.
Many pro-democracy activists and politicians in prison, awaiting trial or have fled abroadand dozens of civil society groups, including many trade unions, have closed.
Only those deemed “patriotic” are allowed to hold office in Hong Kong.