Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, a 34-year-old out gay pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong, faces years in prison after being charged under the country’s National Security Law, Amnesty International has said. 

Amnesty International have launched an online campaign and urged Hong Kong authorities to drop the charges against Sham and release him from pre-trial detention. Since his arrest in February, Sham has been repeatedly denied bail. 

“Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit has spent months locked up in prison – simply for speaking out for his community and LGBTQIA+ rights in Hong Kong. He faces trial soon, where he could be sentenced to many more years behind bars. We need to act urgently to pressure the Hong Kong authorities to release him,” Amnesty said. 

Law Used To Stifle Voices

Sham and 46 other activists were arrested in February 2021, and were booked under the National Security Act, after they were accused of subverting the state by participating in a primary election organised by the Opposition. The maximum punishment under the law is life imprisonment. 

According to Amnesty International, around 118 people have been arrested under the law, sometimes for offences like posting pro-democracy messages on social media, or having slogans on their T-shirts or mobile phone stickers. 

“In the 12 months since it was imposed by the Chinese government, the National Security Law has been used to stifle voices critical of the Hong Kong or Beijing authorities,” said Amnesty International in a statement, adding, “Some of these people face life in prison if found guilty.” 

Sham, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front and secretary of the LGBTQI+ organisation Rainbow Of Hong Kong, has been one of the prominent faces of peaceful protests that have rocked Hong Kong since 2019. Sham married his husband in New York in 2014. 

Time magazine in 2020 had named Sham in their list of “20 people to watch”. In 2019, he successfully contested the district council elections, but resigned from the post early this year. Sham, married to his partner in New York in 2014. 

In 2019, Sham was attacked on the street twice and escaped with injuries. In 2020, a judge while convicting two accused for attacking Sham, found that there was an “elaborate plot” to harm him. 

 

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