An elderly man accused of playing a popular protest song in public without a permit has said he intends to launch a countersuit against the prosecution for allegedly violating his human rights, and to claim HK$1 million in losses from them.
Li Jiexin appeared before Amy Chan at Shatin Magistrates’ Courts on Monday, representing himself. In May, the 69-year-old retiree pleaded not guilty to four counts of playing a musical instrument without a permit and three counts of collecting money in a public place without permission.
Li said on Monday morning that countless court appearances and “restless” prosecutions over the past four years had left him “psychologically crippled and physically decimated.”
Li’s remarks came two weeks after he told the court he had never endangered Hong Kong’s stability or public order by performing 2019 protest song Glory to Hong Kong, and that he would “appeal to the city’s highest court” if he was found guilty.
Li was suspected to have played the erhu with an amplifier without permission from the police chief outside Mong Kok East and Tai Wai MTR stations, and on a footbridge outside Central’s International Financial Centre (IFC) on four occasions between August 3, 2021, and September 29, 2022.
Li told the court in July that he believed he was entitled to perform on the streets of Hong Kong under the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which forms the basis of Hongkongers’ rights to “engage in academic research, literary and artistic creation, and other cultural activities” enshrined in Article 34 of the Basic Law.
The covenant, and Article 34, were both mentioned in a 2015 High Court ruling that saw the defendant acquitted of performing without a permit.
Li on Monday also asked the court to consider whether accusations would be made against the UN.
Reading from a letter that he submitted to the court, Li said on Monday that he intended to countersue the prosecution for violating his human rights. “Every day I live in terror, with no way to live or sleep normally,” Li wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by HKFP.
“[The prosecution] intentionally infringed upon my human rights, and caused physical harm to the body of a senior who’s almost 70 years old,” Li continued, adding that he wanted to claim HK$1 million from the prosecution.
Magistrate Chan adjourned the hearing to October 24.
Li played the melody of Glory to Hong Kong, a protest song popularised during the 2019 extradition bill protests that contains the phrase, “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” a slogan that was ruled capable of inciting secession during the city’s first national security trial.
Hong Kong’s High Court last Wednesday granted the government permission to lodge another attempt to ban the song, after rejecting a bid last month. “Due to the importance of national security, the law on which is – of course – a new frontier, I am inclined to grant leave” to appeal the decision, wrote judge Anthony Chan.
Protests erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment. Demonstrators demanded an independent probe into police conduct, amnesty for those arrested and a halt to the characterisation of protests as “riots.”
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