After Beijing detained 12 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists – also known as the Shenzen 12 – who were allegedly attempting to flee to Taiwan in August to escape the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) draconian National Security Law, Canada has voiced its concern and urged the Chinese authorities to conduct trials on the basis of the Human Rights framework.
“Canada expresses deep concern over the secret trial involving the Shenzhen12. We urge Chinese authorities to conduct trials in accordance with due process and judicial transparency in line with international Human Rights norms and standards,” the Canadian Government’s foreign policy handle tweeted.
London also expressed concern that the defendants were “tried in secret” and were denied access to lawyers of their choosing.
“We are deeply concerned that members of the Shenzhen 12 were tried in secret today, having been given just three days’ notice of their trial. Diplomats from Britain and a number of other countries, tried to attend the court proceedings but were denied entry, said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in a statement.
“The Shenzhen 12 have not had access to lawyers of their choosing, raising further serious questions about access to legal counsel in Mainland China,” he added.
Raab said that the UK expects China to uphold the rule of law and conduct trials in a fair and transparent manner, consistent with the basic requirements of international human rights law.
As per media reports, government-appointed lawyers have told the relatives of 12 Hong Kong pro-democracy protestors arrested while attempting to flee to Taiwan that a mainland Chinese court will hand down verdicts for 10 of them on Wednesday, as per a concerned group that has been assisting the families.
The 10 defendants reportedly pleaded guilty on Monday at what the Yantian People’s Court in Shenzhen said was an “open trial” attended by family members while the two others facing no charges, as they are minors. However, family members said they were not allowed to attend the hearing.
At a news conference in Hong Kong, relatives of some of those detained pleaded for transparency. “I’m begging the courts to quickly give a sentence,” said the mother of Wong Wai-yin, 29, one of the defendants.
“I really want to see my son very much. If you do not give him a sentence, I cannot see him. If you give him a sentence, then I can go see him. All I want is just to see his face once.”
It was also reported that no journalists or diplomats were allowed at the hearings.
A group of rights activists was arrested off the coast of Hong Kong on August 23 while allegedly trying to flee to Taiwan by boat. The detainees have been charged for offences related to the city’s pro-democracy demonstrations due to the authoritarian National Security Law imposed by Beijing.
The draconian law imposed on the city by the CCP criminalizes secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms. It came into effect from July 1.