Two Hong Kong citizens, who attempted to leave China by speedboat to Taiwan have been jailed by the Chinese authorities for up to three years. Their charges include organizing and taking part in an illegal border crossing. They were caught by the Chinese coast guard in August.
Eight other activists, who were caught with them, were convicted of taking part in the illegal border crossing, and they received seven-month sentences. All the accused also received fines ranging from $1,500 to $3,000.
Chinese government accused of maltreating the detained activists
Two other suspects aged under 18 were handed to the Hong Kong police in addition to the ten reprimanded activists. The 12 suspects were detained for more than 100 days before this week’s trial in Shenzhen.
Their parents, politicians in Hong Kong, the United States, and the UK pressured the Chinese government for their release. Their parents and loved ones claimed that they (the detained activists) were abused in Chinese custody, and denied access to their lawyers.
On Monday, a US State Department spokeswoman urged Beijing to release the 12 and allow them to leave the country.
“The treatment by PRC authorities of these 12 individuals, some of whom are underage, has been appalling,” the spokeswoman added. “Beijing authorities continue their campaign to stamp out the remaining rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, falsely equating their system of rule by party decree with the rule of law.”
New law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing threatens freedom of Hong Kongers
The fate of the 12 activists has attracted considerable attention both in Hong Kong and overseas. The passage of a new nation security law earlier this year on Hong Kong by Beijing bypasses Hong Kong’s semi-democratic legislature.
Also, numerous high-profile activists, including former lawmakers Nathan Law, Ted Hui and Baggio Leung, have all fled Hong Kong for exile overseas.