US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo (File Photo)
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo (File Photo)

US lambasts China over poor treatment of 'Hong Kong 12', demands immediate release

ANI | Updated: Jan 01, 2021 07:04 IST

Washington [US], January 1 (ANI): US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, on Thursday, while lambasting the Chinese Communist Party for the treatment to a group of 12 pro-democracy protestors who tried to flee Taiwan in wake of Beijing's imposition of the draconian National Security Law, called for China to immediately release the ten Hong Kong activists.

Pompeo's remarks come after ten individuals, who were arrested by authorities at sea as they fled the city and tried to reach Taiwan by speedboat in August, were sentenced from seven months to three years in prison by a Shenzhen court on Wednesday; two underage passengers were handed over to Hong Kong police, as reported by South China Morning Post.

In a statement, Pompeo pointed out that Hong Kong was a thriving territory until the "Chinese Communist Party and its local lackeys" destroyed its rule of law and eviscerated the Hong Kong people’s freedoms.

"The “Hong Kong 12” who tried to flee this tyranny deserved a hero’s welcome abroad, not capture, a secret trial, and prison sentences. The United States strongly condemns the Shenzhen court’s actions and calls for the ten members of the group who were sentenced to jail terms to be immediately and unconditionally released," said the Secretary of State.

The top US diplomat called the CCP 'a regime' that can 'lay no claim' on global leadership. "A regime that prevents its own people from leaving can lay no claim to greatness or global leadership. It is simply a fragile dictatorship, afraid of its own people," he added.

Pompeo said that the Shenzhen court’s verdict on Wednesday has once again exposed the 'blatant disregard' for international treaties by the Chinese government.

"The CCP’s persecution of the Hong Kong 12 – two of whom were juveniles at the time of their arrest – exposes once again Beijing’s brutality, blatant disregard for the international treaties it has signed, and its disdain for the rights of the Hong Kong people," Pompeo stated.

The US diplomat's remarks are the latest against Beijing's poor treatment towards the 12 pro-democracy demonstrators after the European Union and Canada and the UK expressed concerns over the fairness of the trial.

"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 on Monday.

The European Union on Tuesday slammed Beijing for human rights violations against 10 political activists from Hong Kong who tried to escape to Taiwan, urging authorities to ensure a fair trial and called for an immediate release of the Shenzen 12.

The Shenzhen court on Wednesday sentenced the ten individuals after they allegedly admitted to having attempted to illegally cross the maritime border. 

According to Sputnik, the 12 members of the activist group helped organise anti-government protests in Hong Kong in 2019 against the authoritarian law.

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 offenses related to the city's pro-democracy demonstrations due to the authoritarian National Security Law imposed by Beijing.

The Western nations have hit out at Beijing stating that the law undermines Hong Kong's civil liberties and democratic freedoms.

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. (ANI)