Tycoon Jimmy Lai, 7 others handed new jail terms over Hong Kong protests

·1-min read

Jailed Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was among eight democracy activists handed new prison sentences on Friday for attending protests on the 70th anniversary of the founding of communist China that were followed by a sweeping crackdown.

Lai, who is already behind bars for taking part in earlier protests, must now serve a total of 20 months after pleading guilty to organising and participating in an unlawful assembly on 1 October 2019.

Seven other leading activists, including 25-year-old youth campaigner Figo Chan, as well as former lawmakers Lee Cheuk-yan and Leung Kwok-hung, were also given new jail sentences.

The new sentences are the latest in a relentless and successful campaign by China to smother dissent and dismantle Hong Kong's democracy movement.

Hong Kong was convulsed by months of huge and often violent pro-democracy protests in 2019 in the most serious challenge to Beijing's rule since the city's 1997 handover.

The clashes with police on China's National Day were some of the worst of that period.

It was a vivid and embarrassing illustration of how huge swathes of Hong Kong's population seethe under Beijing's rule as the government celebrated 70 years since communist China's founding.

While clashes between hardcore protests and police raged across the city that day, the march attended by the activists who were jailed on Friday remained largely peaceful.

But it did not have official police permission, a requirement in Hong Kong.

"It was naive to believe a rallying call for peaceful and rational behaviour would be enough to ensure no violence," district judge Amanda Woodcock said as she handed down jail sentences to the eight activists.

yan/jta/jah