Arrests and trials of Hong Kong protesters
As of January 8, 2021, at least 10,257 protesters have been arrested and 2,396 prosecuted.
This is a follow-up to an article that tracked protests and protest-related arrests in the Hong Kong freedom struggle up through November 2, 2019. That article has been split in two, with this one following arrests and trials and another following protests. The information here is updated regularly.
612 Humanitarian Relief Fund was set up expressly to assist protesters by providing legal defense aid and is the largest of its kind in Hong Kong. As of the end of October 2020, it had spent HK$170 million in donations to do so and had only HK$17 million. Please consider making a donation.
The number of arrests is based on Hong Kong police figures. The number of prosecutions is based on figures from Arrested Persons Concern Group (被捕人士關注組; Telegram: @youarenotalonehk).
Below are three tables: an overview of arrests and prosecutions, a list of protesters convicted and sentenced, and a list of political and protest leaders arrested and charged since the start of the protests on June 9, 2019.
· In all, at least 10,257 people have been arrested for protest-related offenses. (As of June 30, 2020, 1,620 of those had been released unconditionally.)
· 1,666 are currently on trial; 697 for ‘riot’, 200 for possession of offensive weapons, 81 for assaulting police, 62 for arson, 22 for explosives-related offenses, and 15 for firearms-related offenses. In addition, 4 are on trial under the so-called ‘national security law’: 1 for ‘inciting secession’ and ‘terrorism’, 2 for ‘secession’ and 1 for ‘colluding with foreign forces’. As of June 30, 2020, 294 were on trial for unlawful assembly and 74 for criminal damage. As of October 15, 2020, 403 had been or were being tried for unlawful assembly. These account for 1,558 of the 1,665 on trial. Other crimes for which protesters have been tried include disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstructing police, possession of radio communications equipment without a license, flag desecration, common assault, wounding, wounding with intent, causing grievous bodily harm with intent, wearing a face covering at an unlawful assembly, possession of an item with intent to damage property, obstructing a public place, breaking and entering, and contempt of court.
· 93 protesters are currently remanded in custody pending the outcome of their trial.
· 731 legal proceedings have concluded, bringing the number of protesters who have so far been prosecuted to 2,396.
· The numbers of those prosecuted, 2,396, and those released unconditionally, 1,620, amount to 4,016 of the at least 10,257 arrested. The cases of the remaining 6,241 arrestees are technically still ‘under investigation’. In all cases, police reserve the right to re-arrest and the Department of Justice to prosecute at a later date.
· 237 have been convicted, 150 on guilty pleas. 196 have been sentenced.
· Of the 196 who have been sentenced, 136 have received custodial sentences: 111, prison; 22, juvenile rehabilitation centre; 1, correctional institution; 1, juvenile training centre; 1, juvenile detention centre. The longest prison sentence so far is 5 years and 6 months. 35 have been sentenced to at least 1 year in prison.
Note: The numbers of those convicted and sentenced above are based on media reports and may not be complete. Typically, the increasingly infrequently released police figures on those ‘held legally responsible’ in regard to the protests are higher. Those figures are not itemized or disaggregated. For example, convictions and bindings over are grouped together. It may be that the figures include not only protesters but also counter-protesters prosecuted. The latter numbers in the several dozen.
On July 27, Initium reported that as of June 30, 141 had been convicted, 3 sentenced to care or protection orders, 108 bound over, 12 acquitted, and charges dropped against 40.
On May 14, Hong Kong Police announced that 1,617 protesters have been prosecuted since June 9, 2019, a much higher figure than the, at the time, 1,401 documented cases. According to police, 595 have been put on trial for ‘riot’, 252 for possession of offensive weapons and 236 for unlawful assembly. On June 11, South China Morning Post reported, based on police information, that 1,749 have been prosecuted, again much higher than the, at the time, 1,644 documented cases. SCMP also reported 100 convictions, far higher than the 42 documented. Police do not publish itemized lists of those arrested and prosecuted, so it is impossible to check media and Arrested Person Concern Group reports against that list. SCMP also gave updated counts of arrestees by age: 1,707 are under 18, including 1,602 secondary students and eight primary students. 5,640 are between 18 and 30. In all, people 30 and under make up 80% of all arrestees as of June 11. On August 26, Hong Kong Police updated its figures: 9,672 protesters arrested through August 15; 2,093 prosecuted, of whom 471 have completed the judicial process, 396 of whom have had to “bear legal consequences” (including conviction, binding over and protective care orders). The most frequently prosecuted crimes were ‘riot’ (663), unlawful assembly (332) and possession of offensive weapons (322). On September 9, police again published an update: 10,016 arrested; 2,210 prosecuted, of whom 550 have completed the judicial process, 462 of whom have had to “bear legal consequences”. The most frequently prosecuted crimes were ‘riot’ (687), illegal assembly (383) and possession of offensive weapons (327). On October 28, Hong Kong Police updated its figures: 10,144 protesters arrested through October 15; 2,285 prosecuted, of whom 664 had completed the judicial process, 557 of whom had to “bear legal consequences” (including conviction, binding over and protective care orders).The most frequently prosecuted crimes were ‘riot’ (691), unlawful assembly (403) and possession of offensive weapons (329).
A particular aspect of the government crackdown on the HK freedom struggle is its targeting of protest and opposition political leaders for arrest and prosecution. In all, as of January 8, it has arrested 126 freedom struggle leaders 223 times. 57 have been charged in court, of whom 7 have been convicted and 5 acquitted; 4 of the 7 convicted have been sentenced to prison. These leaders include 33 political party leaders, 19 Legco members, 18 protest organizers, 3 student leaders, 55 District Councillors, 51 Legco candidates, 3 District Council candidates, 2 union leaders, and 1 media owner.
On April 21, 2020 police started issuing suspected protesters with tickets for violating coronavirus social distancing rules implemented on March 28. As of December 15, at least 436 protesters have been issued with such tickets. Not a single case of coronavirus has been traced to people protesting. On June 17, it was reported that police had issued 705 tickets of a fixed fine of HK$2,200 for breaching restrictions. Police do not keep records on how many of those fined were suspected protesters. On November 30, several were given ‘littering’ fines for placing flowers at Prince Edward MTR station, and on December 7, one was given a littering fine for placing a white origami crane at a memorial for Chow Tsz-lok in Tseung Kwan O.
On July 1, a new category was added to the list of arrests and trials of Hong Kong protesters: Those arrested and charged under the new so-called “national security law”, which came into effect on June 30, 2020 at 11 pm. Ten people were arrested on July 1 under the law and one person charged with “inciting secession” and “terrorism”. One person was arrested on July 21. Four were arrested on July 29. Ten were arrested on August 10. One was arrested on September 6. One was arrested on September 22. Two were arrested on September 24. One was arrested on October 4. On October 27, three were arrested under suspicion of having committed NSL crimes. For all three, it was their second NSL arrest. On November 9, one was arrested by officers in the national security department of the HK police force for “assisting fugitives”, the three arrested on October 27. On November 22, two were arrested on suspicion of secession under the NSL. On December 7, police arrested three people suspected of “inciting secession” over a protest at Chinese University of Hong Kong on November 19. On January 6 and 7, 2021, 55 were arrested under suspicion of “subversion” for organizing and participating in the July 11 and 12, 2020 pro-democracy Legco primaries. In all, 96 arrests have reportedly been made under NSL. As of January 8, four people have been charged in court under NSL.
On August 23, the Guangdong Coast Guard apprehended twelve HK activists on a boat reportedly on its way to Taiwan and has been holding them incommunicado ever since, without contact with their families or family-appointed lawyers. These are the first HK protesters to be detained in China. On December 28, 10 of them were put on trial. Two were sentenced to prison terms of two and three years for organizing illegal border crossing; the other eight to prison terms of seven months each for illegal border crossing. Two of the 12 detained were minors and were returned to Hong Kong on December 30.