On Monday, December 13, 2021, the Hong Kong District Court sentenced eight prominent pro-democracy advocates to jail for unauthorized assembly on June 4, 2020 for the annual commemoration of the Tiananmen massacre.
Among them are Jimmy Lai, founder of the Apple Daily, Lee Cheuk Yan, chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance, and Chow Hang Tung the association’s vice-chair. They face a jail term of 13, 14 and 12 months respectively for “incitement.”
Since 1989, Hong Kong has held the world’s largest annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park. The event has served as a testimony of the courage of Hong Kong people and their desire for democratic reform.
Last year, Hong Kong authorities banned the vigil citing Covid restrictions. The ban ended a three-decade long marathon fight against the silencing and erasure of history by Beijing.
Amnesty International had previously described the guilty verdicts of Lai and others as “attack on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly” and that authorities had criminalized a “peaceful, socially distanced vigil.”
Since the passage of the National Security Law on July 1, 2020, Hong Kong Government has engaged in political persecution by arresting democracy activists on trumped-up charges and leaving them languishing in jail for months without a trial date in sight.
Such persecution is aided by a judicial system which has lost any semblance of independence and transparency. As proof, the District Court judge referred to Chow Hang Tung’s own argument as “frankly nonsensical” and deemed her involvement in the peaceful event “an act of defiance and protest against the police.”
In view of the demise of rule of law in Hong Kong, and as Canadians concerned about human rights and democracy, we question the continuing presence of our former Chief Justice, Beverly McLachlin as one of the fourteen part-time foreign judges on Hong Kong’s Final Court of Appeal.
Madame Justice was previously quoted as saying: “If it’s challenged in any way that is inconsistent with my principles, then I’m gone.”
So why is she still lending her statue and credibility to a judicial system in which core principles of independence and rule of law have been torn to shreds?
Toronto Association for Democracy in China, along with Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement and Movement for Democracy in China (Calgary), are calling for Justice McLachlin to step down immediately. Her continuing presence on Hong Kong’s highest court can only be used to prop up an illegitimate legal system by a government that serves as a puppetry to an authoritarian regime.
For more information: Toronto Association for Democracy in China 多倫多支持中國民運會 firstname.lastname@example.org
Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement 溫哥華支援民主運動聯合會 email@example.com
Movement for Democracy in China (Calgary) 中國民主促進會（卡加利） firstname.lastname@example.org