Hundreds of people gathered to protest outside a court in Hong Kong on Sunday Feb. 28, when Hong Kong police charged 47 pro-democracy activists and politicians with conspiracy to commit subversion.
Protesters chanted slogans such as “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” and “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” while holding bright yellow signs that read “release all political prisoners.”
Police warned the crowds that they could be considered breaching the National Security Law or illegal-assembly rules. The demonstration was the largest seen in Hong Kong in the past year, since the city imposed restrictions to fight the pandemic and the enactment of the national security law in June.
The 47 defendants, including 39 men and 8 women, aged between 23 and 64, were part of the 55 people arrested in dawn raids last month in the biggest crackdown under the national security law imposed by China.
The individuals were accused of “subverting state power” for independently organizing and participating in primaries in July to pick opposition pro-democracy candidates for the Hong Kong Legislative Council election in September. The election was later postponed by chief executive Carrie Lam, who cited coronavirus concerns.
The defendants, who were charged on Sunday and remain in detention, include some of Hong Kong’s most prominent activists, such as student protest leader Joshua Wang, anti-government media tycoon Jimmy Lai, and law professor Benny Tai.
All of them face life in prison if convicted, the Guardian reported, leaving nearly every main voice of dissent in Hong Kong in jail or in exile.
Court proceedings began on Monday Mar. 1 and stretched into the early hours of Tuesday, when the judge adjourned the case after a defendant, Clarisse Yeung, a member of the district council, fainted and was sent to the hospital.
Three others were hospitalized due to exhaustion after the marathon session was adjourned, according to Reuters.