HONG KONG – A Hong Kong court sentenced democracy activists to up to 16 months' imprisonment for conducting demonstrations that led to a 79-day occupation of major roads in 2014.
The protests five years ago called for more open elections and tried to force the Hong Kong leader to resign. Tens of thousands of people took part in sit-ins and peaceful street demonstrations, shielding themselves with umbrellas as the police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowds. The demonstrations were known as the Umbrella Movement.
Two professors, Benny Tai and Chan Kinman, and retired pastor Chu Yiu-ming, who were sentenced this month for public harassment, were sentenced to 1
They were founders of Occupy Central with Love and Peace, a group that advocates nonviolent civil disobedience for democratic reform. Her group had called for a short sit-in of two or three days, which turned into a much longer occupation of the city streets after police used tear gas and pepper spray on student demonstrators.
A summary of Judge Johnny Chan's verdict from the district court said the demonstrations had led to "unreasonable" obstacles, and the leaders had given up legal protection for a peaceful demonstration.
"The court found that a charge of conspiracy that causes public harassment, no consequences would have a deterrent effect in society and in silence many legitimate speeches, as the defendants claim," reads the summary. [19659007AmnestyInternationalsaidinanearlierreportthat"vagueandambiguouscharges"andprosecutiondelays have a deterrent effect on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Six other defendants were convicted of public harassment. They are Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun, both legislators: Lee Wing-tat, a former lawmaker, Tommy Cheung and Eason Chung, who were student leaders, and Raphael Wong, a member of the League of Socialists, a party campaigning for democracy
The sentencing of Ms Chan, the current legislator, deferred until June 10 because she had to undergo a major operation.
The activists said after the verdict that they had the honor to serve in the movement, and that despite their convictions, they did not regret their involvement. Some of her lawyers demanded imprisonment instead of prison terms.
"We need to understand that the powerful are behaving in political economy, finding the right place and beating it relentlessly." The 26-year-old former student leader, said in a court-ordered statement before the conviction, which was translated from Chinese by Hong Kong Free Press. "There are no saints who can follow this journey."
Mr. Chung did not ask for a charitable arrangement.
Mr. Tai and Mr. Chan, also convicted of instigating public nuisance, said they would not demand reduced sentences, but called on the court not to sentence Mr. Chu, who is in poor health, to prison.
In his own court testimony, Mr. Chu, who had helped activists escape the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations while fleeing China, called himself the "bell" in the Umbrella movement.
Three student protest leaders, Joshua Wong Alex Chow and Nathan Law, were sentenced to terms of six to eight months in 2017. The Hong Kong Supreme Court overturned these verdicts last year, but also upheld harsher sentences for future crimes.