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Hong Kong court sends five speech therapists to prison for ‘seditious’ children’s books about sheep fighting with wolves

In one of the books, the story narrated how a village of sheep fought back against a group of wolves who tried to take over their settlement, which was interpreted as supporting the pro-democracy movement by the court

On September 10, a Hong Kong court sentenced five speech therapists to prison for 19 months after they were found guilty of publishing children’s books that were interpreted by the government as ‘seditious’. In the books, sheep try to hold back wolves from their village that according to authorities were symbolizing Hong Kong and the Beijing government. The speech therapists have been identified as Lai Man-ling, Melody Yeung, Sidney Ng, Samuel Chan and Fong Tsz-ho.

On the contrary, the authors argued that the books “chronicled history from the people’s perspective”. The judge, who was handpicked by the government according to the report, concluded that the books were “a brainwashing exercise”.

The five speech therapists were charged under colonial-era sedition law. Notably, it has been used rarely in the city until recently. Interestingly, they were not charged under the national security laws that China had imposed in 2020.

The five convicted speech therapists had already spent more than a year in jail while waiting for the verdict. One of their lawyers was quoted by BBC suggesting they would be released within a month considering the time already served. All of them are between the ages of 25 to 28.

The cartoon book produced as e-books irked the authorities who had interpreted them as if they were explaining the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong to the children. The books were published in form of a set of three books. In one of the books, the story narrated how a village of sheep fought back against a group of wolves who tried to take over their settlement.

During the sentencing on Saturday, the convicted group maintained that the idea behind the books was to help children understand systemic justice. However, Judge Kwok Wai-kin did not believe in the argument and accused them of “sowing in the seed of instability” in the city and across China. He said, “children will be led into the belief that the PRC Government is coming to Hong Kong with the wicked intention of taking away their home and ruining their happy life with no right to do so at all,” referring to China.

It is noteworthy that in 2020 China imposed new national security laws in Hong Kong to crack down on civil liberties. The sentencing of the five authors came following the new laws. Interestingly, critics say the laws imposed by Beijing were designed to squash dissent and weaken the autonomy of Hong Kong. However, China denied the allegations and said the laws were needed to bring stability to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong comes under the “one country, two systems” principle of China and is deemed as a Special Administrative Region of China giving it certain freedoms.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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