A Hong Kong woman has been jailed for four months after she admitted to making more than 60 social media posts that were deemed to be seditious under the colonial-era Crimes Ordinance.

West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts
West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Defendant Law Oi-wa, 48, was put behind bars on Thursday after she pleaded guilty before Principal Magistrate Peter Law to the charge of “doing an act or acts with seditious intention,” local media reported.

The homemaker was said to have published 65 statements on Twitter and Facebook between June 6, 2022 and March 28 this year that aimed to “bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection” against the Hong Kong and Central governments,” incite violence and “counsel disobedience to law,” among other intentions.

According to local media, the content in question targeted the Chinese Communist Party and included the popular 2019 protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times,” which a local court declared in July 2021 as being capable of inciting others to commit secession.

The defendant, who was arrested last month, also shared an image of Hong Kong’s flag in black and white – known as the “black bauhinia” flag – and called protest song “Glory to Hong Kong” the national anthem of Hong Kong, news reports read.

Twitter. File photo: Brett Jordan, via Unsplash.

In her mitigation plea at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts, the defence said the accused was a single mother who was raising four children on her own. She was remorseful and wanted to return home as soon as possible to take care of her youngest son, aged 12.

The 12-year-old son, who was unable to visit his mother in detention after she was denied bail, also penned a letter to the court asking the magistrate to “let my mother come home,” local media reported.

When handing down the sentence, the principal magistrate said the defendant had a plan to incite the emotions of others and the offence period lasted for 10 months. Those who shared similar views as the defendant may be “stimulated” by the posts in question, which may – in turn – “plant threats” in the city.

But taking into account that the scale of the offence was small and the defendant had limited influence, the court decided to impose a lower starting point for sentencing. The principal magistrate did not offer any sentence reduction based on the homemaker’s plea that she had to care for her family. She was eventually handed a four-month jail term.

Sedition is not covered by the Beijing-imposed national security law, which targets secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts and mandates up to life imprisonment. Those convicted under the sedition law – last amended in the 1970s when Hong Kong was still a British colony – face a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.