Diaoyu Islands activist 'proudly' jailed for flag burning

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 5:24am

A political activist was jailed for nine months for desecrating the national and Hong Kong flags in protest at mainland human rights abuses.

Koo Sze-yiu, 66, left court wearing a banner that read: "I am very honoured to be jailed for the third time." He told the Eastern Court: "For the political point of view, I must [desecrate the flags] … When I am released, I will do this again."

I am very honoured to be jailed for the third time ... when I am released, I will do this again

Koo said he burnt the national and Hong Kong flags because he was discontent with the mainland regime, which had sent Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo to jail and allegedly killed social activist Li Wangyang . He also called the Hong Kong government a puppet of the central government's liaison office. The court heard that Koo burnt and defiled the national and Hong Kong flags during two protests - on June 10 last year and on January 1 this year.

Magistrate David Chum Yau-fong said: "Every country has her national flag … and it is the symbol of the country and represents its dignity.

"No matter how lofty the purposes are, violation of laws will not be accepted by the public."

The magistrate added that it was "reckless" of Koo to burn the flag several times during the June 10 rally because the acts endangered fellow protesters, police officers and journalists.

Outside court, lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung called the jail term harsh and said an appeal against the sentence would be possible, if Koo agreed to it. He called Koo's actions a "peaceful" means of expressing his political views, branding the flag laws outdated.

The first flag desecration case to be prosecuted, in 1998, caused controversy. The Court of Appeal found the laws to be unconstitutional because they breached the Basic Law. But the Court of Final Appeal upheld the validity of the legislation in 1999.