Hong Kong court convicts protester of inciting secession under national security law
MarciMarc105 / Pixabay
Hong Kong court convicts protester of inciting secession under national security law

A Hong Kong district court found Monday that delivery worker-turned-activist Ma Chun-man was guilty of incitement to secession for his actions at over 20 protests and interviews last year.

Famously named “Captain America 2.0” by news sources for dressing like the fictional character at demonstrations, Ma was the second person to be convicted under China’s Law on Protection of National Security of Hong Kong. He was charged under articles 20 and 21 for inciting acts “separating Hong Kong from China, unlawfully changing its legal status or surrendering it to foreign rule.”

The prosecution submitted 20 video clips featuring Ma at protests between August 15 and November 22, 2020. Prosecution also submitted several of Ma’s personal effects, including placards and shirts with statements such as “The people of Hong Kong want an independent nation!” and a notebook labeled “Captain America’s Resistance Diary.” They also produced screenshots of similar messages posted by Ma on social media.

In his defense, Ma claimed he was merely exercising his civil right of expression and assembly, guaranteed under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, without violent conduct, criminal intent or even a realistic plan. Ma stated no one responded to his “empty” slogans. However, District Judge Chan Kwong Chi noted the prosecution was not required to prove whether someone committed an act of secession as a result. The consistent “attitude, tenor and content” of the defendant over three months, the judge said, showed his sincere motive to undermine the security law.

The security law, promulgated by China in June 2020, has received international condemnation for violating the city’s autonomy. Over 100 pro-democracy politicians, journalists, and activists have since been arrested under its provisions.

The judgment also referred to the first conviction under the security law, where protester Tong Ying-kit was sentenced to nine years in prison in July for riding a motorcycle into a group of policemen. Ma, facing up to ten years in prison, will be sentenced on November 11.