Literary Inquisition In Hong Kong Before CCP’s 20th National Congress, Five Sentenced for Alleged Seditious Children’s Picture Books

On September 7th, a CCP-controlled Hong Kong court handed down a decision in the case of five members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists who published a series of children’s books titled sheep village, convicted them of conspiring to print, publish, distribute, exhibit, and copy seditious materials, and sentenced them to up to two years in jail.

According to reports, the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists has been publishing original editions of children’s picture book series, including defenders of sheep village, 12 warriors of sheep village, and sheep village cleaners, since June 2020. The animated book series told tales of how sheep villages were threatened by big, fearsome wolves from wolf villages and how the sheep villages united to combat the wolves. Following their publication, the picture books were accused by the Hong Kong Communist government of insinuating the Anti-extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement and the contradiction between mainland China and Hong Kong, with the intent of instilling hatred and contempt in Hong Kongers for the local government and judicial system and inciting others to violence.

According to the defense attorney, the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act both protect the right to freedom of expression and publication. The crime of seditious publication itself infringed those rights. In reports on the human rights situation in Hong Kong that were published as early as this July, the UN Human Rights Committee criticized the National Security Law for being at odds with the freedoms and rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and urged the local Communist government to repeal it. According to Enhao Li, a researcher at Georgetown University’s Law School’s Asian Law Center, the judge overlooked the UN’s concerns and international cases on purpose, and the court ruling failed to indicate the crime of inciting was constitutional. He believed the verdict proved that the Hong Kong court was becoming increasingly isolated from the Western judicial system.

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