A constitutional law expert on Monday said the subversion charges against 47 pan-democrats for holding a primary election brings Hong Kong into "huge disrepute" and doesn't benefit anyone.
Professor Michael Davis, a US-based senior fellow at the University of Hong Kong, told RTHK’s Hong Kong Today programme that people who want to bring democratic changes are "obviously patriots".
"The thing that’s really stunning in all of this is there’s an argument that, well, every country has some protection that people have to swear loyalty and so on to the government. But generally they are swearing loyalty to the government, not just to one party or one version of the government," said Davis.
"There’s the opportunity to conduct elections and change the government, and of course when people oppose the government and do so at great risk to themselves, they are obviously patriots, they are people who care a lot about the community or they wouldn’t take those steps," he added.
Davis was commenting just hours before the politicians and activists were due to appear in court over charges of conspiracy to commit subversion.
The defendants are among 55 arrested on suspicion of "subverting state power" for their involvement in the primary elections last July that were intended to choose candidates for Legco polls that was cancelled, ostensibly due to the pandemic.
"What is the basis for saying someone is engaged in subversion when all they’ve done is conduct a primary election which is done around the world in every democracy?" questioned Davis.
"When I saw the story on the arrest in Hong Kong, actually, the charges imposed in Hong Kong against 47. It was juxtaposed on the front pages of newspapers around the world with the crackdown in Myanmar," he noted.
"The charges that have been levelled against 47 people who have previously been arrested for conducting a primary is an example which just brings huge disrepute on Hong Kong. I can’t see how it’s in the interest on people on any side of the political spectrum for Hong Kong to be viewed as this hardline authoritarian regime."