Arrests and trials of Hong Kong protesters
As of September 12, at least 10,016 protesters have been arrested and 1,666 are on trial.
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 will be updated regularly.
Numbers of arrests are based on Hong Kong police figures. Numbers of trials are based on figures from Arrested Persons Concern Group (被捕人士關注組; Telegram: @youarenotalonehk), with two exceptions noted in the table.
Below the table are two additional tables: a list of protesters convicted and sentenced, and a list of political and protest leaders arrested and charged since the start of the protests. Courts have been closed since early February due to the coronavirus, except for urgent cases; as a result, almost no trials have concluded in the period.
· In all, at least 10,016 protesters have been arrested. (As of June 30, 2020, 1,620 of those had been released unconditionally.)
· 1,666 are currently on trial; 664 for ‘riot’, 213 for possession of offensive weapons, 106 for assault or attempted assault of police, 71 for arson, 22 for explosives-related offenses, 13 for firearms-related offenses, and 1 for ‘inciting secession’ and ‘terrorism’ under the so-called ‘national security law’. As of June 30, 2020, 294 were on trial for unlawful assembly and 74 for criminal damage. These account for 1,458 of the 1,666 on trial.
· 91 protesters are currently remanded in custody pending the outcome of their trial.
· 433 legal proceedings have concluded, bringing the number of protesters who have so far been prosecuted to 2,099.
· The numbers of those prosecuted, 2,099, and those released unconditionally amount to 3,719 of the at least 10,016 arrested. The cases of the remaining 6,297 arrestees are technically still ‘under investigation’.
· 105 have been convicted, 79 on guilty pleas. 89 have been sentenced.
· Of the 89 who have been sentenced, 52 have received custodial sentences: 43, prison; 8, juvenile rehabilitation centre; 1, correctional institution; 1, juvenile training centre. The longest prison sentence so far is 4 years for ‘riot’. 9 others have been sentenced to at least 1 year in prison, one to 32 months for possession of offensive weapons.
Note: The numbers of those convicted and sentenced above are based on media reports and may not be complete. 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), illegal 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 April 21, police started issuing suspected protesters with tickets for violating coronavirus social distancing rules implemented on March 28. As of September 8, at least 372 have been issued with such tickets. From March 28 to May 10, Hong Kong went through 21 days with 0 new local cases of the coronavirus, making it hard to argue that people out on the streets or in malls endangered public health in any way. Many were gathered in large numbers over the same period, hundreds on beaches, in restaurants and gambling halls, and in party hubs in Central, and hundreds of foreign domestic workers in Central, but none of them were targeted by police with ticketing for violating social distancing rules, a clear case of selective enforcement. 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 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. Twenty-six have now been arrested altogether.
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.