Hong Kong Court Jails Veteran Activist Ku Xie You for Plan to Protest Beijing Olympics

Koo Sze-yu, 75, had planned to take the homemade wooden coffin to the Chinese Post Office in the city on the opening day of the Games on February 4, but the national security police ransacked his apartment and arrested him that day before any protest could take place.

Ku denied the charge of “attempting or preparing to commit an act or acts with subversive intent,” public broadcaster RTHK said.

Prior to sentencing, Koo was in detention for more than five months after being denied bail on national security grounds.

The Hong Kong Sedition Act was introduced by the British colonial government in 1938 and outlawed “hatred, contempt or discontent” towards the monarch and the colonial administration. It remained in the charter after the city was handed over to China in 1997.

Unused for decades, the law has been revived by Hong Kong prosecutors amid Beijing’s widespread crackdown on civil society following the city’s 2019 pro-democracy protests.

In one high-profile ongoing case, five speech therapists were charged with “conspiracy to distribute seditious material” for publishing a series of children’s picture books.

Sedition carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison for the first offense and three years for a subsequent conviction.

Critics have accused the Hong Kong authorities of resorting to the sedition law – along with a recently passed national security law – to crack down on dissent.

The Hong Kong government has repeatedly defended national security legislation, saying it has restored order to the city after massive pro-democracy protests.

The National Security Law was passed in 2020 and prohibits acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Two years after its introduction, there is not a single opposition MP left in Hong Kong’s legislature, while almost all of the city’s leading pro-democracy figures, including activists and politicians, have either been expelled or imprisoned – dozens of them behind bars.