potentially opens up thousands of Hong Kongers to the prospect of jail
2 March 2022
Tam Tak Chi, the pro-democracy activist and former radio DJ, became the first individual to be charged for “uttering of seditious words" under the city’s colonial-era sedition laws since 1997.
Today, Tam Tak-chi, was found guilty of 11 charges, and was acquitted of two charges of “disorderly conduct in a public place,” and one count of “conspiracy to utter seditious words.”
District Court Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi, handpicked by the city’s leader to oversee national security proceedings, also ruled that Tam Tak Chi’s use of the popular pro-democracy slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times” was capable of inciting others to commit secession.
On 24 May 2020, Tam Tak Chi was arrested in Causeway Bay for holding or convening an unauthorised public assembly to protest against the national security law. He was also charged with uttering seditious words for organising street booths between March 2020 and July 2020.
The case has been adjourned to March 31 when Tam Tak Chi will receive his sentence.
Tam Tak Chi’s trial comes just several hours after news organisations confirmed that the former Chair of the Hong Kong Bar Association, Paul Harris QC, had left Hong Kong for the UK following being questioned under the National Security Law.
Commenting on Tam Tak Chi’s trial, Johnny Patterson, Policy Director for Hong Kong Watch, said:
Today’s conviction of Tam Tak Chi reflects another water-shed moment for the deteriorating human rights situation in Hong Kong, as Beijing resurrects colonial-era sedition laws to criminalise free speech.
Tam Tak Chi’s case paves the way for Beijing to outlaw the popular 2019 pro-democracy slogan and potentially opens up thousands more Hong Kongers to the prospect of jail for the use of a single phrase.
Overseen by a handpicked judge and coming a few hours after the former Chair of the Hong Kong Bar Association was forced to leave Hong Kong after being detained under the National Security Law, Tam Tak Chi’s sedition charges raise further questions about the dismal state of the rule of law in Hong Kong.
Foreign judges must ask themselves whether they can continue to turn a blind eye to gross human rights violations and offer this broken legal system a veneer of legitimacy?”