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Hong Kong protesters come out as 47 pro-democracy figures appear in court

March 1, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 44.6%. 2 min read.

Former law professor Benny Tai, left, a key figure in Hong Kong's 2014 Occupy Central protests and also was one of the main organizers of the primaries, who was arrested under Hong Kong's national security law arrives a court in a police van in Hong Kong Monday, Feb. 29, 2021. Hong Kong police on Sunday detained 47 pro-democracy activists on charges of conspiracy to commit subversion under the city???s national security law, in the largest mass charge against the semi-autonomous Chinese territory???s opposition camp since the law came into effect last June. (AP Photo/Apple Daily) Hong Kong Out, Taiwan Out , No Archive, No sale

Hundreds of protesters risked arrest to demonstrate outside a Hong Kong court, where 47 pro-democracy activists appeared Monday charged with subversion under the national security law, as authorities step up their crackdown against opposition voices.

Hong Kong (CNN)Hundreds of protesters risked arrest to demonstrate outside a Hong Kong court, where 47 pro-democracy activists appeared Monday charged with subversion under the national security law, as authorities step up their crackdown against opposition voices.

The protest was the largest seen in the city for months, with those gathered chanting the banned slogan, "Liberate Hong Kong!

Prosecutors had argued in court that the defendants were involved in a "massive and well-organized scheme to subvert the Hong Kong government" by organizing and participating in an unofficial primary election last July.

"It is not just the 47 defendants who are just facing charges here today, but also the Hong Kong judicial system and the spirit of rule of law," Leong said.

Hundreds of demonstrators came out to support those being held, despite public health measures that ban gatherings of more than four people and the government's increasing crackdown on political protest.

The charges against the 47 activists mark a sweeping escalation in the application of the national security law, under which previously only a handful of people had been charged and taken to court.

Cases under the legislation are handled by a dedicated branch of the Hong Kong police and judges assigned to hear national security cases.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and others had previously promised the law would be limited in effect, and only target a small number of fringe activists.

The charges come less than a week after the Hong Kong government moved to introduce new requirements for public officials, including that they swear loyalty oaths and embrace Beijing's rule over the city.

It came after Hong Kong's sole delegate to China's top legislative body said that only "staunch patriots" should be allowed to hold positions of authority in Hong Kong.

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