A Hong Kong pastor charged with sedition appeared in court this past week, telling the court that his trial is part of a larger battle for the future of democracy on the island.
Rev. Garry Pang Moon-yuen slammed Hong Kong’s now-draconian legal system, which has been used to force the once-widespread and fervent pro-democracy protests of 2019 almost completely underground.
Pang was arrested on April 6 along with Chiu Mei-Ying, a housewife, when the two were part of a crowd that gathered for the sentencing of Chow Hang-Tung, herself facing charges for organizing a vigil for the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The Reverend and Chiu were charged with “intent to bring hatred, or excite disaffection against, the administration of justice, as well as encouraging disobedience to law and order,” as International Christian Concern reported at the time, for being among those who applauded after Chow made an appeal for herself.
Pang faced additional charges for “doing an act or acts with a seditious intention” and accused of “vilifying the judiciary” in remarks he has made on his YouTube channel over the past two years.
“What’s going on in the court right now is not only a legal battle over sedition but also a battle to defend human rights and freedoms, a battle of safeguarding conscience,” he said during his hearing.
The pastor, who once lead the Oxford Chinese Christian Church in England, played an active role in the pro-democracy movement.
Before his arrest, he frequently appeared at court trials like Chow’s to report on what took place and to pray with and minister to the family members of protesters targeted by the national security police.
ICC noted he has been praying for revival and protection for religious freedom in Hong Kong.
In 2020, the Chinese regime imposed a restrictive national security law on the administrative region which has historically enjoyed far more western-style civil liberties than the mainland as thousands mobilized in protests across the city for months, drawing international attention and support.
In the days since the new law went into effect, the movement has been largely suppressed as protest slogans and songs are prohibited and many of the movement’s significant leaders such as pro-democracy politician Joshua Wong and entrepreneur and activist Jimmy Lai, have been arrested and are awaiting trial.
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