HONG KONG – On Saturday (September 10), five Hong Kong speech therapists were accused of conspiring to publish a inflammatory children’s book featuring cartoon sheep and wolves that prosecutors deemed anti-government. Sentenced to 19 months in prison.

The five were convicted on Wednesday under a colonial-era sedition law that rights activists denounced as “brazen acts of repression”, but the Hong Kong government rejected the charges.

The defendant, who pleaded not guilty, was accused of publishing three books featuring cartoons of sheep fighting wolves.

District Court Judge Kwok Wai Khin said defendants must be punished “not because of their publications or words, but because of their harm or the risk of harm to a child’s mind,” and said that the work ” He said he sowed the seeds of instability.

“What the defendants did to children over the age of four was actually a brainwashing exercise aimed at guiding very young children to accept their views and values.

Lorie Lai, Melody Yeung, Sidney Ng, Samuel Chan and Marco Fong, 26-29, were convicted by Kwok judges handpicked by city leaders to try national security cases .

The books refer to events such as the city’s mass pro-democracy movement in 2019 and the case of 12 pro-democracy protesters who fled Hong Kong by speedboat and were captured by the Chinese coast guard in 2020. was

In one book, a wolf takes over a village and tries to eat the sheep, and the sheep start fighting back.

It’s the first time a inflammatory publication case has gone to trial since the 2019 protests and Beijing’s imposition of a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020, and authorities are vital to restoring stability. It has said.

One of the group’s lawyers estimated that the five could be released within 31 days if deductions were made, including nearly a year spent in prison awaiting trial.

Judge Kwok acknowledged they could be out of prison soon, asking the five, “When will you leave the prison of your mind?”

Lai’s easing was interrupted by Judge Kwok, who said, “The courtroom is not a place to make political statements.”

“Everybody has freedom of expression, but it’s not the same as absolute freedom,” he said.

Before being suspended, Lai said that the trial’s central issue was freedom of speech, and that “limited freedom is not freedom.”

Defendant Yeung quoted the late US civil rights leader Martin Luther King, who said, “Riot is an unprecedented word.”

“I don’t regret my choice. I hope I can always stand by the sheep’s side,” Yeung said.

“Children will be led to believe that the Chinese government has come to Hong Kong with evil intentions to rob them of their homes and ruin their happy lives,” Kwok said in his ruling. People’s Republic of China.

The defendant is a member of the Hong Kong Speech Therapists Confederation, which Judge Kwok said was “apparently established for political purposes.”

“The political situation looks calm on the surface, but inside it is very unstable,” he said of the situation in Hong Kong after the national security law came into force. – Reuters

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