Right to peaceful assembly scrapped – what’s next?

Suzanne Sataline a couple of weeks ago looked at the reasons behind the trial of the ‘Grey-Haired Seven’ – Martin Lee, Margaret Ng, Jimmy Lai, Long Hair et al. On Friday, they received prison sentences. At the same time, Jimmy Lai had new NatSec charges brought against him (‘conspiracy’ variants of charges like ‘collusion with foreign powers’), and he appeared in court in connection with the ‘fraud’ case against him.  

The whole rigmarole looks carefully pre-scripted: suspended sentences for the moderate/older (and most venerable) defendants, thus avoiding extreme outrage at callousness; imprisonment (for peaceful assembly among a crowd of a million or more) for the more radical/less aged, backed by feeble justifications from the judge; and simultaneous additional legal skewerings for Jimmy Lai – pure sadism by the CCP in revenge for his refusal to kowtow ever since calling Li Peng a ‘turtle-egg’. They will be happy if he dies in prison.

Here’s Margaret Ng’s rather noble statement to the court. Comments from Jerome Cohen on her case. And a word from Chris Patten

The CCP simply does not understand that you cannot bludgeon and incarcerate people into loving a totalitarian and corrupt regime.

All those who are conniving at destroying the Hong Kong loved by the world will be remembered in shame, even as, in due course, they scurry off from HK clutching their foreign passports.

With peaceful assembly by government opponents now de facto illegal, it’s going to be the media’s turn. Top officials are already talking of laws against ‘fake news’ – meaning anything that counters the CCP line. Police Commissioner Chris Tang is the latest to call for such censorship after Apple Daily carried negative comments about the HK Police NatSec Fun Day ‘kids with toy guns on MTR’ photo. (The photo was not faked; what Tang should really do is fire the idiot who came up with the ‘kids-guns-MTR’ idea.)

A Ta Kung Pao op-ed demands that Apple Daily be shut down (for ‘promoting Hong Kong independence’ – reporting some Hong Kong-related billboards in the UK). Wen Wei Po has joined in, adding Stand News and the HK Journalists Association for good measure. When these Beijing-run papers call for something these days, it happens quickly. What’s the betting that the Hong Kong Apple Daily will be shut down by year-end? How long before wholesale blocking of websites begins?

In the meantime – an activist group looking at Andy Li’s case predicts – we will start having forced confessions. Luke de Pulford thinks the CCP will specifically make Andy Li frame elders like Martin Lee and Margaret Ng to create a ‘unified pan-dem plot’ conspiracy story. Simon Shen in The Diplomat exposes the fallacy of this idea with this survey of the ‘factions’ of pan-dems. (A slightly less dark/more naive reading is that heavier sentencing for more radical ones like Long Hair indicates that Beijing sees a point in trying to divide what is left of the pan-dem camp.)

And Beijing’s NatSec Office is expanding into the Island Pacific Hotel in Sai Ying Pun (not far from the Liaison Office). Their first task, perhaps, will be compiling huge accept/reject lists of ‘election’ candidates for the vetting/nomination process. After that, they have so much more to do.

A reminder that it’s not just Hongkongers – from one democratic free island nation to another, an appreciation of Plucky Icelander of the Week, Jonas Haraldsson.

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12 Responses to Right to peaceful assembly scrapped – what’s next?

  1. Fartpolice says:

    Why is tang concerned? Didn’t he already say that the 8/31 subway violence was not the work of black cops? Now he is saying that the juxtaposed photos are meant to incite anger about such black violence? I suppose when you support a corrupt regime the cognitive dissonance you feel having to defend the actions that make people hate you can lead to confusion. Disgusting pigs.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    The sign of a confident, powerful nation and second largest economy on the planet: Go after some (previously) anonymous bloke in Iceland. Well played, CCP.

  3. YTSL says:

    What the authorities are doing is so methodical as well as horrible. And yet, there are so many people who seem to think it’s not their fight/concern. I wish they would read Pastor Niemoller’s confessional. And for those who really need it spelled out…

    First they came for the localists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a localist

    Then they came for the old school politicians and activists
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not an old school politician or activist

    Then they came for the educators
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not an educator

    Then they came for the press
    And I did not speak out
    Because I was not a member of the press

    Then they came for me
    And there was no one left
    To speak out for me.

  4. Chinese Netizen says:

    Every active regime enabler (and family) with foreign passport that tries to escape HK once the shit REALLY hits the fan ought to be on a list and turned back at the destination airport to face his/her CCP masters.

  5. Pope Innocent says:

    As Hong Kong no longer exists it is of course too late, but there is a clear lesson here for activists (which my flock in Northern Ireland learned well): protesting feels good because it’s almost like doing something, but freedom comes through the gun and the bomb.

  6. Reader says:

    #YTSL, your comment rose from the page in the voice of the Modern Major General. If I may slightly adapt:
    What authorities are doing is so methodical and horrible. And yet, there are so many who seem to think it tol’rable. If only they read Pastor Niemoller’s confessional. While for those who need reminding here it is spelled out unmissable.

  7. Quentin Quarantino says:

    Jimmy Lai got 14 months. Minus 1/3 for good behavior = 9 1/2 months minus 3 months in prison pre-trial = 6 1/2 months. He could be out by Xmas, am I right?

  8. steve says:

    @Quentin: They’ve conjured other charges against Jimmy Lai, and will do so again if necessary. The Party insists that he above all must die in prison.

  9. where's my jet plane says:

    He could be out by Xmas, am I right?

    Unlikely. They haven’t started on his insecurity law charges yet and more seem to be added by the day. Youknow, the chain letter style conspiracy to conspire to conspire stuff that is never ending.
    Christmas 2300 is a better bet.

  10. Conrad says:

    “The CCP simply does not understand that you cannot bludgeon and incarcerate people into loving a totalitarian and corrupt regime.”

    Of course you can. Has he not read 1984? Has he looked at the current generation of Han patriotic cocksuckers?

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

  11. Gromit says:

    “The CCP simply does not understand that you cannot bludgeon and incarcerate people into loving a totalitarian and corrupt regime.”

    Why do (predominantly-) Western commentators continue to think that the a Marxist-Leninist party is at all concerned with how people feel about it? You would think Patten would have a little more insight to know that this is irrelevant to the CCP (unless it can be used as counter-propaganda against a slight to the entire Chinese nation). The party is infallible.

  12. Stanley Lieber says:


    George Orwell warned us and also left instructions on how to deal with them:

    “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

    It’s the only language they understand.

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