“Pull back to shoot,” he said.

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Hong Kong Sentences Jimmy Lai, Other Pro-Democracy Figures, to Prison

HONG KONG — Jimmy Lai, a pro-democracy media figure, and several of Hong Kong’s most prominent opposition campaigners were sentenced on Friday to prison terms of eight months to 18 months for holding an unauthorized peaceful protest.

Supporters of the defendants say the prosecutions are the latest sign of the fundamental transformation that Beijing has sought to impose on Hong Kong. Until recently, the city had long been a bastion of free speech. Now, the sentences send an unmistakable message that activism carries severe risks for even the most internationally recognized opposition figures.

The court sentenced Mr. Lai, 73, a media tycoon who founded Apple Daily, an aggressively pro-democracy newspaper, to 12 months in prison. Martin Lee, an 82-year-old lawyer, often called Hong Kong’s “father of democracy,” was handed a suspended 11-month prison term, meaning he would avoid being put behind bars if he is not convicted of another crime in the next two years.

overhauled Hong Kong’s electoral system to cement the pro-Beijing establishment’s grip on power. Protests have been largely barred during the pandemic, and self-censorship in the media and arts, which are under intense official pressure, is a growing concern.

Over a period of months in 2019, hundreds of thousands of people joined antigovernment demonstrations in one of the greatest challenges to the Communist Party in decades. The sentences imposed on Friday, added to the measures already taken against dissent, are likely to chill participation in such protests in the future.

“It’s very clear that the approach has changed radically, not just by courts and police,” said Sharron Fast, a media law lecturer at the University of Hong Kong. “The emphasis is on deterrence; the emphasis is on punishment. And with large-scale assemblies, the risk is very high.”

a march on Aug. 18, 2019, that followed a gathering in Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island. The rally in the park had been permitted by the police, but the authorities, citing the violence at earlier protests, had not approved plans for demonstrators to march about two miles to government headquarters afterward.

He has traveled the world, including many trips to Washington, to lobby for that cause. Such internationally focused activism is now banned under the national security law.

Mr. Lai, the media mogul, was smuggled into Hong Kong from mainland China as a child and worked his way up from factory laborer to clothing company tycoon. He then put his wealth into crusading, tabloid-style publications that have been sharply critical of the authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong.

Mr. Lai also faces a fraud case and charges of collusion with a foreign country under the security law for allegedly calling for sanctions against Hong Kong. In a separate hearing on Friday, prosecutors added two more national security charges, accusing Mr. Lai of conspiracy to commit subversion and obstructing justice.

In the illegal assembly case, the court rejected defense arguments that the procession after the rally was necessary to help protesters safely clear out of the crowded park, or that potential imprisonment for a nonviolent march would infringe on the rights to free speech and assembly that have traditionally been protected in Hong Kong.

protests did devolve into widespread violence.

in a letter this week to his colleagues at Apple Daily, told them to be careful because “freedom of speech is dangerous work now.”

“The situation in Hong Kong is becoming more and more chilling,” he wrote. “The era is falling apart before us, and it is therefore time for us to stand with our heads high.”

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Key Chains and Teddy Bears in Riot Gear: Hong Kong Promotes National Security

HONG KONG — Teddy bears clad in black police riot gear, on sale for more than $60 apiece. Messages of gratitude to the authorities, pasted by children onto the walls of their schools. Uniformed police officers goose-stepping in formation, accompanied by a counterterrorism drill complete with a helicopter and hostage simulation.

This is National Security Education Day in Hong Kong, the first since the central Chinese government imposed a wide-ranging security law on the territory last year.

The law, a response to months of fierce and sometimes violent antigovernment protests that began in 2019, has become synonymous with the authorities’ efforts to clamp down on dissent and ensure staunch loyalty. And the panoply of activities on Thursday indicated how they plan to do so: with a mixture of cutesy cajolery and overt shows of force, for a law that an official once said should hang over Hong Kongers like a “sword of Damocles.”

“Any ‘hard resistance’ that undermines national security will be struck down by the law. Any ‘soft resistance’ will be regulated by the law,” Luo Huining, the central government’s top official in Hong Kong, said at a ceremony kicking off the day’s events.

arrest around 100 people, gut the political opposition and remake Hong Kong’s electoral system.

frequently deployed in 2019.

show of goose-stepping. Traditionally, many of the disciplined services in Hong Kong, a British colony until it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, had marched in the British style. But the Chinese Army is known for the distinctive goose-step, in which the leg does not bend at the knee.

“After enjoying this wonderful performance,” an official website for National Security Education Day promised, viewers would be led inside to view armored vehicles, the explosives disposal team and recruitment information.

riot-gear-clad teddy bear, a pair of zip ties strapped to its chest ($62); key chains engraved with crowd-control phrases like “Disperse or we fire” and “Warning: Tear smoke” ($4 each); and a set of 18 three-inch figurines, clutching rifles and shields and bearing police warning flags about illegal assembly (“festive special offer”: $114).

It seemed unlikely that any sort of protest would break out in such a heavily fortified location. Still, officials seemed eager to forestall even a hint of the so-called soft resistance Mr. Luo had singled out in his speech. As journalists waited to enter the open house, security officers asked some who were wearing yellow or black face masks — colors associated with the pro-democracy movement — to swap them for blue ones the authorities provided.

four pro-democracy activists tried to march through parts of downtown, bearing a poster that said “Without democracy and human rights, there is no national security.” They were followed by dozens of police officers.

In other parts of the city, schoolchildren — including those in kindergarten — were enlisted in the promotion of national security. Education has been a particular focus for the authorities, who have blamed what they call biased curriculums for turning Hong Kong’s youth against the government.

On Thursday morning, many schools hosted ceremonies to raise China’s national flag and sing the national anthem (which the Hong Kong government last year made a crime to disrespect).

At the Wong Cho Bau middle school, which is run by a pro-Beijing teachers’ union, the principal told students during a morning assembly that national security should be incorporated into every part of their curriculum, including geography and biology classes, as well as weekly flag-raising ceremonies.

“These daily accumulations can help us construct our own national concept and identity, so as to achieve prosperity and glory for the country,” said the principal, Hui Chun-lung. “So everybody should study hard. If the youth are strong, then China is strong.”

Afterward, school officials showed off colorful slips of paper that students had filled out and pasted onto a “community mosaic wall.” “Please express your opinion toward the idea of ‘Support national security, guard our home,’” the prompt said.

In response, the students expressed their gratitude to the government and their relief that the pro-democracy protests had subsided. “Those people who protest everywhere are intolerable, destroying public places and hurting our home,” one student wrote.

Other students’ responses were even more effusive.

“I think the idea of supporting national security and guarding our home is extremely without problems! Support! Support! Extremely support!” one student wrote. “Whatever the national security law says, goes! I very much have no opinion!”

Joy Dong contributed research.

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Myanmar Protests, and Killings, Continue

The Myanmar military’s bloody crackdown on the nationwide resistance to its rule showed no sign of easing on Sunday, with a human rights group reporting that the death toll across the country had passed 700.

The security forces killed 82 people in a single city on Friday, according to the group, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been documenting the bloodshed since the military’s Feb. 1 coup. Soldiers used machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to attack an organized group of protesters who had set up barricades to defend part of that city, Bago.

The military appears to be targeting centers of resistance around the country, using overwhelming power against largely untrained, poorly armed protesters. In Tamu, a town near the border with India, members of a local defense group similar to the one in Bago claimed to have killed some members of the security forces on Saturday after coming under attack.

The security forces’ assault in Bago, about 40 miles northeast of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, was one of their most lethal yet. A reputable news outlet, Myanmar Now, also put the death toll in Bago at 82.

must cease immediately” and urged the military to let medical teams treat the wounded.

Members of the local defense organization in Tamu, which calls itself the Tamu Security Group, said that as in Bago, the security forces had attacked its defenses on Saturday with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Members of the security forces were killed in the ensuing clashes, according to two members of the defense group.

Their claims could not be independently confirmed. But killing multiple members of the security forces would be a significant development in the violence since the coup, which has been overwhelmingly one-sided.

A small, little-known rebel group called the Kuki National Army, one of many ethnic armed groups that have been fighting Myanmar’s military for years in regional conflicts, said it had helped the Tamu protesters battle the security forces on Saturday, but the extent of its involvement was unclear. Some leaders of the protest movement have called on rebel armies to join forces.

Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, called the trial “another example of the junta’s all-out effort to force people off the streets and crush the civil disobedience movement.”

Daw Aye Aye Thwin, whose son, Ko Bo Bo Thu, 27, is one of the two defendants in custody, said he was at home at the time of the killing and had nothing to do with it. She said she had not been able to see him since his arrest and learned of the sentence on Friday, a day after it was handed down.

“Now I feel like my world is gone,” she said. “I just want to appeal to the authorities not to kill my son.”

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Northern Ireland Sees Spasm of Violence as Old Tensions Resurface

LONDON — A bus hijacked, pelted with stones, then set on fire. Masked youths rioting, hurling missiles and homemade bombs. A press photographer attacked on the streets.

For almost a week, scenes of violence familiar from Northern Ireland’s brutal past have returned in a stark warning of the fragility of a peace process, crafted more than two decades ago, that is under growing political and sectarian strain.

Amid a contested fallout from Brexit, politicians have pointed to different causes for an explosion of anger from parts of the Protestant, so-called Unionist or Loyalist, community that is determined to keep its link to the rest of the United Kingdom.

But analysts agree that six consecutive nights of violence, during which 55 police officers have been injured and 10 arrests made, mark a worrisome trend.

Britain completed the final stages of Brexit on Jan. 1. That ended a system under which companies in Northern Ireland shared the same trade rules as those of Ireland, which remains part of the European Union.

During the interminable Brexit negotiations, much energy was devoted to preventing the need for checks on goods at Northern Ireland’s highly sensitive land border with Ireland.

Under an agreement in a protocol struck by Mr. Johnson, Northern Ireland was given a special economic status that leaves it straddling the United Kingdom and the European Union trade systems.

suspend the protocol by triggering an emergency mechanism in a dispute over vaccine supplies. Though the British government had also threatened to break the treaty over a separate issue — and the European Union reversed its decision within hours — that united Unionists in anger.

“Those few hours on Jan. 29 changed everything,” said Professor Hayward, who added that the decision from Brussels encapsulated Unionist suspicions about the protocol and shifted senior politicians away from grudging acceptance of it to outright opposition.

With Unionist support for the protocol disappearing, faith in the police in question, and friction over Brexit between the British and Irish governments, calming the violence could prove hard.

“In the past these things have been mitigated by very careful, well-supported, actions by community workers on the ground, bolstered by the political environment and rhetoric and demonstrations of the success of peace at the very highest levels — including the British-Irish relationship,” said Professor Hayward.

“You look around now,” she added, “and think: all those things are really under pressure.”

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Outcry in Pakistan After Imran Khan Links Rape to How Women Dress

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An outcry has erupted in Pakistan after Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed a rise in rape cases on how women dressed, remarks that activists denounced as perpetuating a culture of victim blaming.

Mr. Khan made the comments on a live television show earlier this week when he was asked what the government was doing to curb an increase in sexual violence against women and children. Mr. Khan acknowledged the seriousness of the problem and pointed to the country’s strict laws against rape.

But, he said, women had to do their part.

“What is the concept of purdah?” he said, using a term that refers to the practice of seclusion, veiling or concealing dress for women in some South Asian communities. “It is to stop temptation. Not every man has willpower. If you keep on increasing vulgarity, it will have consequences.”

The uproar was swift.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent group, demanded Mr. Khan apologize for his remarks, which it called “unacceptable behavior on the part of a public leader.”

chemical castration.

There are few reliable statistics on rape in Pakistan, but rights activists say it is a severely underreported crime, in part because victims are often treated as criminals or blamed for the assaults. Thousands of protesters took to the streets last year after a top police official in the eastern city of Lahore said that a woman who was raped on a deserted highway was partly to blame for the attack.

not how women dress!” she wrote in one post. In another, she said that she hoped that Mr. Khan had been misquoted because the man she knew had different opinions.

entered politics, and has been accused of being overly sympathetic to the Taliban in recent years.

To women’s rights activists, Mr. Khan’s comments this week were only the latest example of the challenge they face in finding support for their causes in the deeply conservative society. Organizers of women’s rights marches on International Women’s Day last month have said they have been accused of “vulgarity” for seeking equal rights.

“It’s already tremendously challenging for women of all ages in public spaces in Pakistan, whether on the streets or at work or in the digital space, even in their own homes,” said Ms. Sukhera, the author in Lahore. “Regressive preaching prevents women from reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs, and must be addressed.”

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Myanmar’s Military Has Killed Over 40 Children Since the Coup. Here’s One Child’s Story.

No one quite knew why the soldiers wandered into Aye Myat Thu’s neighborhood of neat wooden houses, each painted a cheerful hue, sprays of bougainvillea adding more splashes of color.

Mr. Soe Oo took a coconut from the family palm tree and hacked at it carefully, lest the sweet water spill out. Sounds like the pop of firecrackers echoed in the hazy heat.

Aye Myat Thu grabbed her slice of coconut. The popping noises drew her down the path from her house. Past the trees, a camouflaged presence stalked, according to other neighborhood residents. No one in the family saw him.

The hole from the bullet was so small that Mr. Soe Oo said he couldn’t understand how it had extinguished the life of his daughter, another random victim of a trigger-happy military.

“She just fell down,” he said. “And she died.”

The funeral was the next day. Buddhist monks chanted, and mourners gathered around the coffin, raising their hands in the three-fingered salute from “The Hunger Games” that has become the protesters’ symbol of defiance. Garlands of jasmine framed the girl’s face, the bullet still lodged somewhere in her skull.

“I want to tear off the soldier’s skin as revenge,” said U Thein Nyunt, her uncle. “She was just an innocent child with a kind heart. She was our angel.”

Around her body, the family placed some of Aye Myat Thu’s favorite belongings: a set of crayons, a few dolls and a purple rabbit, some Fair and Lovely cream, a Monopoly board and a drawing of Hello Kitty she had sketched two days before she was killed. On the paper, next to the cartoon cat, Aye Myat Thu had written out her name in careful English letters.

“I feel empty,” said Ms. Toe Toe Lwin, her mother.

Right after the funeral, Aye Myat Thu was cremated, the flames burning her treasures with her. In other parts of the country, soldiers have stolen corpses of those they killed, perhaps to conceal the evidence of their brutality. In one case, they exhumed a child’s grave.

The family didn’t want the same for their little girl.

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Thousands Protest Against Policing Bill in Britain, With Clashes in London

LONDON — Thousands of people protested Saturday in several cities across England and Wales against a sweeping crime and policing bill, with some in London clashing with the police in scenes that may further fuel a raging national debate over law enforcement tactics in Britain.

In London, protesters peacefully marched from Hyde Park in central London to Parliament Square, but the gathering gave way to scuffles with officers in the evening, and 26 demonstrators were detained, the police said. Ten officers also suffered light injuries, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Saturday night, adding that the number of arrests would likely increase.

Protesters also marched in Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and many other cities on Saturday, the latest events in what have become known as “Kill the Bill” demonstrations. Critics of the bill say it would hinder the right to protest and constitute an attack on democracy.

Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill are provisions allowing the police to bar unauthorized encampments and detain protesters if gatherings are deemed a “public nuisance.” The new legislation, pending in Parliament, could also impose noise limits and set start and finish times on demonstrations.

increasingly tense environment between the police and demonstrators across Europe. Over the past year, protesters have clashed with the police during Black Lives Matter protests, anti-lockdown rallies and, in countries like France, against similar security laws.

Human rights groups have warned against rising police disruption of such protests and have cited the arbitrary detention of protesters in countries like France, Croatia and Bulgaria as worrying trends.

“No E.U. country is immune to threats to democracy, and more concrete efforts are badly needed to revert worrying trends,” the Berlin-based Civil Liberties Union for Europe said in a report published last month.

In England and Wales, the new policing bill was thrust into the national spotlight last month after the police broke up a peaceful vigil for Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who was murdered after disappearing in south London on March 3.

thousands showed up anyway. Police forces sought to dislodge the protesters, pinning some women on the ground in scenes that shocked the public and drew widespread criticism, including from London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan.

An official inquiry made public this past week determined that the officers had acted appropriately.

“After reviewing a huge body of evidence — rather than a snapshot on social media — we found that there are some things the Met could have done better,” the leader of the inspection team, Matt Parr, said of the Metropolitan Police.

“But we saw nothing to suggest police officers acted in anything but a measured and proportionate way in challenging circumstances.”

The clashes on Saturday may add to the ongoing debate about excessive force used by the country’s police, which in London have been shaken by several recent controversies. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick acknowledged last year that her force was “not free from racism and discrimination,” and Mr. Khan has vowed to make the police more diverse to better represent London’s population.

wrote on Twitter after he spoke at the gathering.

shouted expletives and clashed with police forces as they tried to disperse them.

Commander Ade Adelekan said in a statement Saturday night that a majority of demonstrators had adhered to social distancing rules and left when asked to by the police. But officers arrested protesters, he added, after a minority refused to comply with orders.

“We remain in the middle of a global pandemic and we have made great progress in controlling the spread of the virus,” Mr. Adelekan said. “We will not allow the selfish actions of a small number of people to put Londoners progress in jeopardy.”

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Myanmar Soldiers, Aiming to Silence Coup Protests, Target Journalists

Ten days after seizing power in Myanmar, the generals issued their first command to journalists: Stop using the words “coup,” “regime” and “junta” to describe the military’s takeover of the government. Few reporters heeded the Orwellian directive, and the junta embraced a new goal — crushing all free expression.

Since then, the regime has arrested at least 56 journalists, outlawed online news outlets known for hard-edge reporting and crippled communications by cutting off mobile data service. Three photojournalists have been shot and wounded while taking photographs of the anti-coup demonstrations.

With professional journalists under pressure, many young people who came of age during a decade of social media and information sharing in Myanmar have jumped into the fray, calling themselves citizen journalists and risking their lives to help document the military’s brutality. They take photographs and videos with their phones and share them online when they get access. It is a role so common now they are known simply as “CJs.”

“They are targeting professional journalists so our country needs more CJs,” said Ma Thuzar Myat, one of the citizen journalists. “I know I might get killed at some point for taking a video record of what is happening. But I won’t step back.”

the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, stamped out a pro-democracy movement by massacring an estimated 3,000 people. She said she saw it as her duty to help capture evidence of today’s violence even though one soldier had already threatened to kill her if she didn’t stop.

The regime’s apparent goal is to turn back the clock to a time when the military ruled the country, the media was firmly in its grip and only the wealthiest people had access to cellphones and the internet. But the new generation of young people who grew up with the internet say they are not giving up their freedoms without a fight.

Facebook became the dominant online forum. A vibrant media sprouted online and newsstands overflowed with competing papers.

Since the Feb. 1 coup, protests have erupted almost daily — often with young people at the forefront — and a broad-based civil disobedience movement has brought the economy to a virtual halt. In response, soldiers and the police have killed at least 536 people.

At the United Nations on Wednesday, the special envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, warned that “a blood bath is imminent.” The regime has arrested thousands, including the country’s civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. On Thursday, one of her lawyers said she had been charged with violating the official secrets act, adding to a list of alleged offenses.

While the military uses state-owned media to spread its propaganda and fire off warnings, attacks on journalists have increased drastically in recent weeks, as have arrests.

hop on his good leg as they lead him away.

Another photojournalist shot that day, U Si Thu, 36, was hit in his left hand as he was holding his camera to his face and photographing soldiers in Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city. He said he believes the soldier who shot him was aiming for his head.

“I had two cameras,” he said, “so it was obvious that I am a photojournalist even though I had no press helmet or vest.”

“I’m sure that the military junta is targeting journalists because they know we are showing the world the reality on the ground and they want to stop us by arresting or killing us,” he added.

Of the 56 journalists arrested, half have been released, according to a group that is tracking arrests. Among those freed were reporters for The Associated Press and the BBC.

But 28 remain in custody, including at least 15 who face prison sentences of up to three years under an unusual law that prohibits the dissemination of information that might induce military officers to disregard or fail in their duties.

Ma Kay Zon Nway, 27, a reporter for Myanmar Now, live streamed her own arrest in late February as she was running from the police in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. Her video shows the police firing in the air as protesters flee. The sound of her labored breathing is audible as the police catch up and take her away.

She is among those who have been charged under the vague and sweeping statute. She has been allowed to meet just once in person with her lawyer.

Mr. Swe Win, the Myanmar Now editor, himself served seven years in prison for protesting in 1998. “All these court proceedings are being done just for the sake of formality,” he said, adding, “We cannot expect any fair treatment.”

With mobile communications blocked, Facebook banned and nightly internet shutdowns, Myanmar’s mainstream media has come to rely on citizen journalists for videos and news tips, said Mr. Myint Kyaw, the former press council secretary.

One of them, Ko Aung Aung Kyaw, 26, was taking videos of the police arresting people in his Yangon neighborhood when an officer spotted him. The officer swore at him, aimed his rifle and fired, Mr. Aung Aung Kyaw’s video shows.

The bullet hit a wall in front of him.

“I know that recording these kinds of things is very risky and I might get shot to death or arrested,” he said. “But I believe I need to keep doing it for the sake of having a record of evidence to punish them.”

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Hong Kong Convicts Martin Lee and Other Democracy Leaders Over Protest

HONG KONG — Seven of Hong Kong’s leading veteran democracy campaigners were found guilty on Thursday of unauthorized assembly, as Beijing’s campaign to quash the city’s opposition ensnared some of its most senior and well-recognized figures.

Martin Lee, an 82-year-old barrister known as the “father of democracy” in Hong Kong, Jimmy Lai, 73, a media tycoon and founder of the staunchly pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, and Margaret Ng, 73, a respected barrister and columnist, along with four others, were convicted of participating and organizing an unauthorized march in 2019.

The prosecution of veteran pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong has been held up by their supporters as a severe assault on the freedom of speech and other civil liberties that once were core to the city’s identity. Hong Kong’s authorities have overseen an expansive crackdown on the pro-democracy movement since the city was engulfed by antigovernment protests in 2019. More than 2,400 people have been charged as the authorities sought to quash the movement that had posed the greatest challenge to Beijing’s rule in decades.

Beijing has sought to depict several of the opposition figures in court on Thursday as subversive elements working with hostile foreign forces to undermine Chinese sovereignty. Critics of this view say the ruling Communist Party is only deflecting the true democratic aspirations of the Hong Kong people.

denounced in Chinese state media as being part of a “Gang of Four” who stirred unrest in 2019, an accusation at odds with the largely leaderless movement in the streets.

The case centered on a rally on August 18, 2019 when hundreds of thousands of people gathered in an antigovernment protest.

dropped the case after coming under sharp criticism at home. Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, had said Mr. Perry was “pretty mercenary” and was giving the Chinese government a public relations win.

The State Department, in an annual report on Hong Kong issued Wednesday, said that the Hong Kong government “did not respect” the right to free assembly provided under local law, and that by imposing a national security law last year, China had “dramatically undermined rights and freedoms in Hong Kong.”

The trial took 20 days, twice as long as had been scheduled initially.

The defendants, who also include the labor organizer Lee Cheuk-yan and the former lawmakers Cyd Ho and Leung Kwok-hung, face up to five years in prison. Sentences will be handed down at a later date.

Another former lawmaker, Au Nok-hin, 33, had previously pleaded guilty to both charges, while Leung Yiu-chung, 67, had pleaded guilty to a single charge of participating in the protest.

The verdict could set expectations for several trials on similar charges of illegal protests set to take place this year.

In addition, 47 pro-democracy politicians and activists have been charged with subversion under the new security law for participating in an election primary that prosecutors say was part of plan to subvert the government.

Mr. Lai, the media tycoon, has been charged in a separate national security case for allegedly lobbying for American sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials.

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