Hong Kong Protester Sentenced as Terminally Ill Rights Activist Starts New Jail Term
Former barista Siu Lok-ting gets a four-and-a-half year sentence for arson and "rioting" during the 2019 protest movement.
A court in Hong Kong on Wednesday jailed a woman for four-and-a-half years for helping to light a fire on a city street during the 2019 protest movement, which was sparked by plans to allow the extradition of alleged criminal suspects to mainland China.
Siu Lok-ting, 27, was handed the sentence after being found guilty of two counts of arson and one count of rioting, after the judge took into account mitigating factors such as the absence of attacks on police officers.
Siu's parents were visibly devastated by the sentence, with Siu's father crying out "This society is without mercy! As she was being taken away, her partner shouted out: "Let's get married when you get out!"
She will serve four and four-and-a-half year jail terms concurrently, after her diagnosis of depression and anxiety was taken into account, according to the judge.
Siu's sentence came a day after veteran pro-democracy campaigner Koo Sze-yiu -- who has stage-four cancer -- was jailed for five months for "taking part in an illegal assembly."
'Down with the CCP!'
Koo told the court that he would take the sentence in his stride, and continued to speak out against a draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from July 1, 2020.
"Being in prison is a part of my life now," he said. "This is my 11th jail sentence, and I expect there to be a 12th and a 13th."
"Next time, I will deliberately break the national security law, and I won't expect leniency from the court."
Ignoring the judge's attempt to cut him off, Koo continued: "Human rights are more important than any government, and the people are more important than any government."
"Down with the CCP! End the one-party dictatorship!"
Fellow activist Raphael Wong, who came to the court to show support for Koo on Tuesday, said Koo is a veteran activist who can cope with prison life. Nonetheless, there are concerns about his health.
"His comrades in the pro-democracy movement won't be happy about this, because he is sick," Wong said, adding that Koo had spent just a few days out of prison after his April 7 release from a sentence for "desecrating" China's national flag.
"I took him to the Lai Chi Kok Reception Center to visit [fellow activist] Long Hair the very next day, because Long Hair was afraid he might ... not be around after he himself got out," Wong said.
"They had a very happy time chatting together."
Pro-democracy district councilor Bull Tsang said Koo has been a veteran of the human rights and pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong since the city rose up in protest following the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
"He has been to jail quite a lot [because of his civil disobedience actions]," Tsang said. "The last two times were after the 2019 anti-extradition movement."
"Koo is willing to do time in a smaller prison to fight for freedom of speech," he said. "Meanwhile, the seven million residents of Hong Kong, including the judges who tried him, are doing time in a larger prison for fighting for freedom of speech," he said.
Koo first became involved in left-wing activism during his youth in Macau, later leaving to take up residence in more liberal Hong Kong.
He has spent three decades building protest movements, marking the June 4, 1989 bloodshed and carrying out civil disobedience actions, many of which have landed him in jail.
Faced with terminal cancer, he recently told Stand News that he has no regrets about the way he is spending his time.
Article 17 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and Article 27 of the city's Basic Law both state that the residents of Hong Kong enjoy the right to freedom of speech, press and association, and of demonstration.
But the recent imposition of the national security law and recent changes to Hong Kong's political system to enable its control by the CCP have put an end to the city's promised freedoms, and to the limited democracy the city once enjoyed.
Reported by Lau Siu Fung, Fong Tak Ho and Chan Yun Nam for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.