Thu, Apr 25, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Hong Kong ‘Umbrella movement’ leaders sentenced

DISAPPOINTING:Chan Kin-man and Benny Tai received the longest sentences — 16 months in jail — sparking tears in court and angry chants from supporters outside

AFP, HONG KONG

Chu Yiu-ming, Baptist minister and cofounder of the Occupy Central group, speaks to reporters outside West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court in Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: Bloomberg

Four prominent leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy movement were jailed yesterday for their role in organizing mass protests in 2014 that paralyzed the territory for months and infuriated Beijing.

The prison terms are the latest hammer blow to the territory’s beleaguered democracy movement, which has seen key figures jailed or banned from standing as legislators since their demonstrations shook the territory, but failed to win any concessions.

Earlier this month, nine democracy advocates were convicted of at least one charge in a prosecution that deployed rarely used colonial-era public nuisance laws over their participation in the “Umbrella movement” protests, which called for free elections to appoint the territory’s leader.

Two key leaders of the mass protests — sociology professor Chan Kin-man (陳健民), 60, and law professor Benny Tai (戴耀廷), 54 — received the longest sentences of 16 months in jail, sparking tears in court and angry chants from hundreds of supporters gathered outside.

Two others — activist Raphael Wong (黃浩銘) and lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun (邵家臻) — received eight months, while the rest had their jail terms suspended or were given a community service order. One defendant, lawmaker Tanya Chan (陳淑莊), had her sentencing adjourned because she needs surgery for a brain tumor.

The jail terms are the steepest yet for anyone involved in the 79-day protest.

As Wong was led away by guards, he said: “Our determination to fight for democracy will not change.”

Tai and Chan founded a civil disobedience campaign known as “Occupy Central” in 2013 alongside 75-year-old Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming (朱耀明), one of the defendants to have his jail term suspended.

“The long sentences send a chilling warning to all that there will be serious consequences for advocating for democracy,” Human Rights Watch senior China researcher Maya Wang (王松蓮) said.

Amnesty International said that the four jailed men were “prisoners of conscience” and that the record-breaking sentences set a “dangerous precedent.”

Carefully worded criticism came in from Western diplomats in the territory.

Washington’s consulate said that it was “concerned by the Hong Kong Government’s decision to bring these charges,” while Britain’s added that it would be “deeply concerning” if the jailings “were to deter the people of Hong Kong from participating in peaceful protest in the future.”

There were emotional scenes outside the courthouse as the four leaders were driven away in a prison van as supporters shouted: “Add Oil!” — a popular Cantonese phrase to signal encouragement.

Many supporters were holding umbrellas, an emblem of the 2014 protests after they were used by young demonstrators to defend themselves against police batons, tear gas canisters and pepper spray.

Speaking after the sentencing, Tanya Chan told the crowd: “I hope Hong Kongers will not lose hope, will not be afraid, will not have regrets or back down now.”

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