The Occupy Nine verdict

The big news in my absence this last week was the verdicts in the Occupy leaders case. The nine were variously found guilty of conspiracy to commit public nuisance, inciting others to cause public nuisance, and – in case you hadn’t noticed that this is political persecution – inciting others to incite others to commit public nuisance.

The judge seems to have accepted the government prosecution’s arguments without much of a struggle. By maintaining their devotion to high-minded principles like the right to democracy and the justness of civil disobedience, the defendants helpfully lined themselves up for martyrdom. Might it have been better to forget the idealism and attack the charges as a farce contrived by the Chinese Communist Party’s local poodles?

The judge put off sentencing for a couple of weeks. This gives behind-the-scenes scriptwriters time to calculate how to calibrate the various personalities’ punishments so as to satisfy the CCP’s need to strengthen control through fear, while limiting further damage to Hong Kong’s reputation for a laws-based system at a time when the world is watching the Mainland extradition amendment. Or – if you prefer to believe it – perhaps the judge will decide on the sentencing all by himself.

Presumably, there will be appeals. The pattern (sort of) seems to be that lower-level courts with judges looking forward to promotions go along with these vindictive political prosecutions, while the Court of Final Appeal overrules the nonsense. If this is so, Beijing will need to fix it.

Even now, the pro-democrat activists stick to their deluded fantasy that, if we ask enough, we can have democracy. Like their self-pitying and tendency to overdramatize, this is stale and unconvincing. To many Hong Kong folk, it is probably getting tedious. To Beijing, it is a joy. Making such appeals (and other engagement, like participating in rigged elections) just legitimizes the regime.

They need to not just accept, but boldly state, that the CCP is systematically dismantling Hong Kong’s pluralist society and rule of law, and that while tiny Hong Kong can do little or nothing to defend itself, the rest of the world – especially Taiwan – should take notice. That might even, conceivably, make Beijing pause.

Some heavy-ish related reading: the Progressive Lawyers Group’s first annual Rule of Law Report, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt’s popularity in China.  

I declare the weekend open with a (totally irrelevant) one-minute film clip. Be patient. Ten seconds from the end, I was muttering ‘Oh come on buddy, go and get yourself a haircut or something’. Then, upon the (not so much unexpected as too-good-to-be-true) denouement, I was splitting my sides laughing. Your reaction may differ. Here it is.

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