Hong Kong: Student Protest Leaders Sentenced



Three student leaders in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement, who led mass rallies and sit-ins in 2014, have been sentenced, the BBC reports:

Joshua Wong, who became the teenage face of the protests, was given 80 hours of community service for unlawful assembly. Nathan Law was sentenced to 120 hours, while Alex Chow was given a three-week prison sentence suspended for a year. The three were facing a maximum of two years in jail.

Wong, 19, as well as Law and Chow climbed over a fence into the forecourt of the Hong Kong government complex on 26 September 2014. Their arrest helped trigger mass pro-democracy protests, which came to be known as the Umbrella Movement, that brought parts of the city to a standstill for nearly three months.

Wong’s lawyer, Michael Vidler, said the sentence was fair but that the legal process had been skewed by politics, Reuters adds.

“There’s a bit of sort of an attitude of … let’s just prosecute everybody despite the weakness of some cases,” he said. “They wanted to send a message and very much for Joshua: let’s dig up the incidents in the past and see whether we can charge him.”

“In sentencing these students, Hong Kong authorities’ behavior increasingly resembles that of their counterparts in Beijing. Leading peaceful protests is no crime, and the charges against the three should be dropped,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch:

The sit-in occurred on September 26, 2014, in Civic Square, a space outside Hong Kong government headquarters. The area had previously been open to the public for protests, but the government sealed it off in 2014 for unspecified “security reasons.” …Hong Kong has a longstanding tradition of tolerating peaceful demonstrations, but recent reports suggest an increasing number of arrests and prosecutions against protesters…. Hong Kong’s Public Order Ordinance has been criticized by the United Nations Human Rights Committee for possibly “facilitat[ing] excessive restrictions” to basic rights. …..Hong Kong people are entitled to choose their top leaders through universal suffrage, according to the Basic Law – its functional constitution – and the ICCPR. However, the Chinese and Hong Kong governments have backtracked on this promise through a series of decisions since 1997. In August 2014, China’s national legislature imposed a stringent screening mechanism that effectively bars candidates the central government dislikes from nomination for chief executive. That decision triggered the Umbrella Movement in 2014. RTWT

Nathan Law Kwun-chun (above, right), Secretary General of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, accepted the Democracy Courage Award on behalf of the Umbrella Movement at the World Movement for Democracy’s Eighth Assembly in Seoul, South Korea.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email