Giving up free speech as the compromise for freedom?

While the world is looking at how people are physically attacked by the military in Myanmar, we also see here in Hong Kong how people are psychologically and mentally attacked in the courtroom.

As we continue to see the marathon bail hearings for some of the 47 defendants, including former legislators, politicians, lawyers, businessmen and journalists, who are facing the charge of so-called “conspiracy to subvert the state power”, we also saw the drama of how four of them being eventually granted bail following the decision of the Department of Justice to withdraw their appeal against the magistrate’s decision to grant bail to 15 of the 47 defendants.

During the lengthy hearings, some of the defendants offered to quit their political party and stop making any further comments on politics on their social media platforms in the hope of being granted bail. This really strikes an alarming bell on what prompts people to give up their freedom of speech in exchange for their temporary personal freedom.

Gwyneth Kwai-lam Ho (何桂藍), former journalist of the popular online Chinese media platform Stand News (立場新聞), again showed her exceptional courage to reject giving up her freedom of speech in exchange for bail. As Victor So, the Chief Magistrate presiding the bail hearings, imposed restriction on media coverage of the content of the bail applications based on Section 9p of Cap. 221 of Criminal Procedure Ordinance, despite some defendants’ lawyers argued to lift the ban for public interest, it now makes it more difficult for the public to share the content of the bail proceedings. Literally, only results of the proceedings can be reported. I’m posting the hyperlink to her full speech during the proceedings, thanks to the Taiwanese online media platform The Reporter 報導者 for posting the speech for public interest.

I don’t have any insights to share but I just want to write this short piece to show my support to the 47 defendants. They are not defendants to us but I would like to thank them for all they have done to Hong Kong. I would also like to say how much I appreciate Gwyneth’s courage! I understand that everyone has different considerations and concerns but it’s just a super courageous move to maintain one’s freedom of speech under such pressure. Thumbs up! 👍👍👍👍👍

Hong Kong-based human rights researcher & NGO consultant| PhD Candidate at Université Jean Moulin (Lyon 3). Twitter: @patrickpoon

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