“The United States condemns the sentencing of seven pro-democracy leaders on politically-motivated charges,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Their so-called crime was participating in peaceful demonstrations in 2019 against Beijing’s encroachment on Hong Kongers’ fundamental freedoms.
The pro-democracy leaders sentenced include Martin Lee, Jimmy Lai, Albert Ho, Margaret Ng, Cyd Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan, and Leung Kwok-hung. Five of the defendants received jail sentences of eight to 18 months, and others were handed suspended sentences, including Hong Kong Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee. Secretary Blinken called the sentences “incompatible with the non-violent nature of [the pro-democracy leaders’] actions.”
Some of the activists, such as Jimmy Lai, the 73-year-old founder of a pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, face additional charges, including under a sweeping national security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong in 2020, which grants Beijing broad powers to crack down on a variety of purported political crimes.
Secretary Blinken decried the sentencing of pro-democracy activists as “yet another example of how the [People’s Republic of China] and Hong Kong authorities undermine protected rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration in an effort to eliminate all forms of dissent.”
The Sino-British Joint Declaration, a binding international agreement, guarantees Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, and people in Hong Kong should be entitled to the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Joint Declaration and Basic Law.
The United States will continue to stand with Hong Kongers as they respond to Beijing’s assault on their freedoms and autonomy and will continue to call for the release of those detained or imprisoned for exercising their fundamental freedoms.