First minors sentenced under Hong Kong security law

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The first minors convicted under Hong Kong’s national security law were yesterday sentenced to detention in a training center by a judge who said their calls to overthrow the Chinese government should be met with deterrence.

A 16-year-old girl and three 17-year-olds were members of a little-known pro-independence group that called itself ‘Returning Valiant’ and promoted a violent uprising against China on street stalls and on social media last year, the court heard.

They were charged with “conspiring to incite subversion” under Hong Kong’s national security law imposed by Beijing to root out dissent after huge and sometimes violent democratic protests three years ago.

Photo: AFP

District Court Judge Kwok Wai Kin (郭偉健) said the defendants’ message could have turned the peaceful protesters violent – although he admitted there was no direct evidence anyone was incited .

“Even if only one person is instigated, Hong Kong’s stability and people’s safety could have been greatly affected,” Kwok said.

The four teenagers all pleaded guilty last month alongside compatriot Kwok Man-hei (郭文希), 19.

All five were sentenced to up to three years in a training center, a rehabilitation-focused detention center that can be a sentencing option for teenagers between the ages of 14 and 20.

In a previous hearing, prosecutor Stella Lo (勞泳珊) said the group broadcast its messages outside busy train stations, held press conferences and online broadcasts over a period of four month.

The defendants cited the French Revolution and Ukraine’s struggle for democratization over the past decade to support their case, the court heard.

Leaflets distributed by the group also quote former Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong (毛澤東) saying that “revolution is not a dinner party”, but “an act of violence whereby one class overthrows another”, Lo added.

Some of the teenagers were still in school when they were arrested.

The case also involves two adult defendants, whose sentences are to be decided separately next month.

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