Hong Kong’s District Court sentenced a Hong Kong woman, Lee Yan-yan, to five and a half years in prison on Wednesday, according to Hong Kong Free Press. She was previously convicted in October of rioting, wounding with intent, and perverting the course of justice for engaging in a “vigilante” incident on September 21, 2019, the two-month anniversary of the 2019 Yuen Long mob attack. The 2019 Yuen Long mob attack occurred in the broader context of the 2019 Hong Kong protests.
The “vigilante” incident involved a gathering of pro-democracy supporters that condemned police inefficiency in responding to the Yuen Long attack. More than 100 men with rods indiscriminately attacked civilians during the Yuen Long attack. Pro-democracy supporters chanted protest slogans and attacked men with umbrellas and metal rods during the incident.
Lee was accused of attacking the head of a pro-democracy supporter who chanted a protest slogan. Lee is one of 69 individuals who have been arrested for participating in the attack.
While Lee’s defense team stated that Lee did not plan to attack the pro-democracy supporter, Judge Anthony Kwok held that this was not a mitigating factor. Lee had attacked a pro-democracy supporter in public and she initially refused to allow police officers to enter her apartment. Kwok disapproved of Lee’s acts and found “vigilantism” to be threatening and unlawful.
The 2019 Hong Kong protests broke out over a withdrawn extradition bill that proposed to allow fugitives to be transferred from Hong Kong to jurisdictions that lack an extradition deal with Hong Kong, such as mainland China. The bill was withdrawn on September 4, 2019 after a series of mass protests. Relatedly, on June 5, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal quashed journalist Choi Yuk-ling’s conviction regarding her investigation of the 2019 Yuen Long attack. The court held that the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Bill of Rights protect the freedom of the press.