At West Kowloon Court where 96 protesters arrested in Admiralty on 9/29 are expected to be formally charged with ‘riot’. In terms of number of defendants, this is the largest trial in #HK’s post-handover history, bigger than the other mass riot trial of 44 arrested 7/28.
Hundreds of family & supporters (incl fellow protesters) are already gathered, far too many for the courtroom & lobby area outside it. Today the defendants’ll be formally charged & apply for bail. On past experience, most should be granted it. The hearing’ll probably take all day
Court has adjourned until 11:30, at which time, the defendants will begin to be processed in batches, in the new ‘assembly-line justice’ the #HK govt is using to prosecute large groups of protesters. It will be a very long day in court indeed.
The inside of the courthouse looks like a sit-in protest, with hundreds of supporters, dressed mostly in black, sitting in groups on the floor in just about every open space. These trials have wide-ranging ripple effects, touching thousands directly across the city.
A riot trial can take upwards of a year, maybe even longer for such a big one as this. It is gruelling & involves massive time & resources from lawyers, families, friends, supporters & of course the defendants themselves. It feels like a punishment of its own before the verdict.
Fortunately, protesters have quickly developed excellent support systems. As soon as a protester is arrested, CHRF & other orgs ensure s/he gets legal counsel, funding for which comes from 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund & other orgs which have tens of millions in donations.
Dozens of lawyers give their time. Arrested Persons Concern Group tracks trials & organizes people to go to the trials to ensure no protester is overlooked or forgotten. Churches & social workers provide spiritual & emotional support.
It’s one of the many inspiring ways #HK people have unified to defend ourselves & resist. If you follow these tracks, you realise how both deep & widespread the resistance & solidarity are. #香港人加油
This is the scene outside of the courthouse now. There are hundreds more inside but photography is not allowed there. Overall, there’s easily a couple thousand gathered to support the 96 riot defendants.
Meanwhile, down the street from the court, the scene: 6 police vans full of cops, 1 standing in the street w a teargas rifle (yes, he threatened me for taking this photo). This is next to Ying Wa College where students told me 100 are on strike over yesterday’s police shooting.
Someone just told me that’s not a teargas rifle but an MP5 machine gun (I’m clueless about weapons). So a cop with a machine gun threatening people on a city street where no disturbance is occurring. Sounds like a #PoliceState to me.
Update on 'riot' trial of 96 protesters: Judge split the trial in 2, corresponding to places defendants were arrested on 9/29: Harcourt Rd & Queensway. Harcourt Rd is going 1st; as of 5pm, Queensway hasn't started. As one observer said of the whole situation, 'This is a big mess'
The initial hearing in the 'riot' trial of 96 #HK protesters arrested in Admiralty on 9/29 finally concluded shortly before 11pm, 13hrs after its start. The next hearing will be 12/23. 93 were released on bail. At least half the defendants are students.…
The defendants include 2 14yo's, a doctor, a teacher & the editor-in-chief of HKU student union mag Undergrad that @BrianLeungKP used to head. A 97th defendant, Hoi Lai-ming, director of #HK Social Workers' General Union, was charged w assaulting police but he's still in hospital
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