Washington [US], April 18 (ANI): As China continues to suppress the will of the people in Hong Kong under the draconian National Security Law, media outlets worldwide have called Beijing's actions in the city "a new level of viciousness".
In a piece written by the editorial board of The Washington Post, they wrote that out of the 10 pro-democracy activists sentenced on Friday, nine of them -- now mostly in their 60s and 70s -- were hauled into a courtroom and sentenced to prison terms adding that the regime of the Chinese President Xi Jinping has stooped to a new low.
"China's crackdown in Hong Kong has reached a new level of viciousness," the editorial's headline read.
As many as 10 prominent pro-democracy figures were sentenced on Friday in Hong Kong in two separate cases for their peaceful involvement in 2019 protests. Those sentenced are Martin Lee, Albert Ho, Jimmy Lai, Margaret Ng, Cyd Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan, Leung Kwok-hung, Au Nok-hin, Leung Yiu-chung, and Yeung Sum.
Their sentences range from terms of imprisonment between 8 and 18 months, and suspended prison sentences from 8 to 12 months in five of the cases. These latest decisions follow the sentencing of Joshua Wong and Sze-yiu Koo on 13 April.
"Not content with jailing or forcing into exile most of the younger leaders of the opposition, the regime of Xi Jinping felt compelled to crush its historic stewards -- an act of sheer vindictiveness that brought the crackdown on Hong Kong to a new low," the editorial from The Washington Post read.
"On that pretext, the originators of one of the world's most civilized pro-democracy movements will now be tarred as convicted criminals. The regime's message is clear: No form of dissent will now be tolerated in Hong Kong, just as it is not in all other Chinese cities. The solemn promise of "one country, two systems," under which Hong Kong's rule of law and free speech were to be preserved until at least 2047, has been trashed," the editorial added.
The editorial further lambasted the Xi government for undermining the freedoms of Hong Kong and called its action a crime that may not be "as grave as the genocide" the Xi regime is carrying out against the Muslim population of the Xinjiang region, "but it is stunning in its brazenness."
The United Kingdom, The United States and the European Union condemned the decision to sentence publishing tycoon Jimmy Lai and multiple pro-democracy figures to prison for their roles in the 2019 mass protests that rocked the city for a year.
This subversion was made a criminally punishable offence in Hong Kong last year, under the Beijing-drafted national security law.
Meanwhile, Beijing believes the legislation criminalises activities related to terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power and collusion with foreign forces, while local pro-democracy activists and certain Western nations claim that the law undermines Hong Kong's civil liberties and democratic freedoms.
Beijing was perturbed by violent anti-government protests in 2019 and has imposed the draconian national security law to take action against those who protested against the government. (ANI)