Hong Kong speech therapists jailed for cartoons

A Hong Kong court on Saturday sentenced five members of a speech therapists' union to 19 months in jail for conspiracy to incite hatred toward the government by publishing three cartoon books about sheep teaming up to protect their village from wolves.

A judge said the books clearly referred to the city's pro-democracy protests in 2019, and that children will be led to believe that the Chinese government is coming to Hong Kong with the wicked intention of taking away their home and ruining their happy life with no right to do so.

The court had ruled on Wednesday that what the defendants have done to children is a brainwashing exercise. The five pleaded not guilty.

The Hong Kong government has increasingly suppressed free speech since the 2020 introduction of a national security law aimed at cracking down on anti-government moves.

Amnesty International issued a statement on Wednesday saying, "In today's Hong Kong, you can go to jail for publishing children's books with drawings of wolves and sheep."

It added, "These 'sedition' convictions are an absurd example of the disintegration of human rights in the city."