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21-Year-Old Sentenced to Almost Six Years Under National Security Law for a 2021 Bombing Plot

Six members of a post-anti-extradition self-proclaimed “revolutionary” group Returning Valiant appeared for sentencing last week (May 25, 2023) at the High Court for the group’s planning bomb attacks targeting various court buildings in Hong Kong in July 2021.

The case has drawn international attention because all six defendants were high-school students when their prosecution began in 2021, and their charges involved the National Security Law.

May 25 Sentencing involving bombing plot by Returning Valiant

Ho Yu-wang, 19, Kwok Man-hei, 20, Alexander Au Man, 21, Su Wing-ching, 19, and two other minors Chan and Law, entered their guilty pleas earlier last month with designated national security law judge Alex Lee Wan-tang.

Ho pleaded guilty to the charge of terrorism while the remaining five pleaded guilty to the lighter alternative charge of conspiring to “cause explosions likely to endanger life or to cause serious injury to property.”

Alexander Au, 21, is sentenced to five years and eight months in prison, while three younger defendants under age 21 are sent to rehabilitation-focused training centers for up to three years.

Sentencing of the remaining two defendants, Ho and Kwok, is delayed until Sept. 27.

Ho Yu-hong, 19, also known as Brother Lennon, is alleged in court to be one of the “masterminds” of the bombing plot.

Kwok Man-hei, 20, was among a total of five high-school students sentenced to correctional facilities by District Judge Kwok Wai-kin last October on a different case of “conspiracy to subvert state power,” when Returning Valiant members distributed leaflets at street booths early 2021 to advocate for communist-style up-rising.

Case Details at the May 25 Hearing

Case details read out at the May 25 hearing indicated that the group planned to use TATP explosives to make bombs. A statement from all six defendants admitted their plan to attack the magistrates’ courts at Kwun Tong and Tuen Mun, among other public facilities, in order to express discontent against the government.

Ho Yu-hong was accused of organizing, recruiting members, and planning explosive manufacturing. Ho was said to have asked his then-secondary school teacher how to make TATP-based explosives (though he was refused) and stored hydrogen peroxide in high concentrations.

Ho allegedly recruited two other high-school students, who were 15 at the time, to assist in transporting and detonating the bombs.

These two and another boy, 16 at the time, were regarded by national security law judges Alex Lee as having played relatively minor roles in the case; hence all three were sent to correctional training facilities. They would be detained at these centers for up to three years.

Au, a 19-year-old back in 2021, was regarded by Lee to be more culpable, as he was responsible for renting a hotel room for making the bombs and had worked closely with Ho in planning and organizing.

The now 21-year-old man is sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.

2022 Sentencing Involving Returning Valiant

In a district court on Oct. 8, 2022, seven members of the Returning Valiant group pleaded guilty to a count of “conspiracy to subvert state power,” Kwok Man-hei, who got delayed sentencing at last week’s High Court hearing, was among them.

These members were accused of advocating “armed uprising” to overthrow the government.

Kwok Man-hei, 19 at the 2022 hearings, was among the five minors involved in the case, the other four being Yuen Ka-him, Wan Chung-wai, Leung Yung-wan, and Tseung Chau Ching-yu, aged between 16 to 17.

These juvenile defendants were sentenced to correctional facilities, marking the first HK National Security Law-related case where underaged persons were convicted.

Two adult defendants among the seven were given five years and three months in prison the next day, on Feb 9, while the third adult defendant’s case was postponed.

From January to May 2021, the defendants allegedly organized street booths and held press conferences in Mong Kok, Shatin, and other locations. They gave speeches, conducted interviews, and distributed leaflets.

Chinese Communist leader Mao’s words, “A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another,” found on their leaflet formed “evidence” of “conspiracy to incite subversion” in their cases.

World Responses to First Minor NSL Conviction

Following the Oct 8 sentencing of the five minors, Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for The Office of The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed her concern over the conviction of minors for violating the Hong Kong National Security Law in a news briefing on Oct. 11, 2022.

Shamdasani stated that the United Nations Human Rights Committee had “repeatedly expressed concerns over the negative impact of the National Security Law,” urging the Hong Kong government to abolish it.

However, the UN Committee “was shocked to witness the National Security Law still in effect, specifically targeting teenagers.” Shamdasani said.

She reminded Hong Kong of its obligations under international human rights law to ensure the city’s judicial system and law enforcement stay conformed.

A Post Anti-Extradition Resistance Group

Said to be founded after Hong Kong’s National Security Law came into effect in July 2020, a newly emerged group named Returning Valiant appeared around January 2021 with street booths advocating “changing people’s mindset” and promoting Mao-style revolutionary “uprising.”

The group’s booths shared foreign armed uprisings history, such as the 2013 Ukrainian Revolution and the 1789-1799 French Revolution, saying its mission was to inspire and open up people’s minds.

“Hongkongers must possess independent critical thinking.” “If one’s mind is closed, most people would still believe in keeping the old Hong Kong way (expressing their opinion) by sitting peacefully and being a sheep that only follows.” “People need to realize and understand that Hong Kong has become a desperate and struggling city.” The group posted on its Facebook page.

An April 2021 statement on social media by the group was titled “A Revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another”, a direct quote from Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong.

“There is no so-called perfect opportunity for a revolution. You must act, plan, and resist the Chinese Communist Party’s dictatorship.” “We believe the people give the power to a government. We have the right to take back everything our way.” The group said on Facebook.

Fight Chinese Communist Party Dictatorship with Communist Style Revolution

Returning Valiant, dismantled by the police in July 2021, was a small group of only around 20 members, seemingly mostly high-school students.

With the decline of large-scale anti-extradition assemblies following restrict measures against the coronavirus pandemic since the beginning of 2020, as well as the imposition of the Hong Kong national security law in July that year, Returning Valiant self-proclaimed a mission to “carry on the aspirations of the forerunners and keep alive the fire of the revolution” (Chinese: 繼承先賢之志  延續革命之火).

The group started a new slogan, “Enlighten our people; Liberate our city” (Chinese: 開啟民智  光復我城) in place of the original slogan of “Reclaim Hong Kong; Revolution of Our Times” (Chinese: 光復香港  時代革命), which was used across all pro-democracy groups during the 2019 anti-extradition social movement.

Advocating Marxist or Mao-style “revolution” to fight against the Chinese communist regime is an odd and interesting twist.

Hong Kong’s 2019 anti-extradition movement emphasized tolerance of different chosen ways of protesting among the different streams or groups within the pro-democracy camp, from the vast majority, which is the average citizens’ peaceful-rational-non-violent way, to the political and advocacy groups such as pro-democracy parties and organizations, to the many organic groups sprang up during the movement such as citizen-reporters, citizen-paramedics, grey-haired-protecting-the-kids, all the way to valiant youth groups advocating non-bloodshed resistant-actions.

The Returning Valiant, which appeared rather late in, or could be regarded as post, the anti-extradition movement, stood out different from the mainstream of the 2019 movement. It advocated markedly different ideas of “armed up-rising.”

From May 2021 onwards, the Hong Kong police made multiple arrests of members of Returning Valiant and claimed to have totally dismantled the group by July.

Returning Valiant last updated its Facebook on May 6, 2021.

The last post was about its members’ arrest.

The group said it would not matter if the totalitarians squashed its organization. As long as its ideals are seeded in Hong Kong, its mission is fulfilled. @

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