Sunday, 16 December, 2018

HK activist sentenced to 90 days in prison

A yellow umbrella is displayed by a pro-democracy activist outside the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong Tuesday Jan. 16 2018. Three young Hong Kong activists are making a last-ditch attempt to overturn prison sentences for their roles in sparking 201 Hong Kong Protest Leaders Sentencing
Kelvin Reese | 19 January, 2018, 01:55

Wong and some others in the case had pleaded guilty past year for failing to comply with a court order to clear out of a protest camp during the 79-day "Umbrella Movement" protests in late 2014. He and other leaders of the protests are appealing their sentences in a separate case.

High Court Judge Andrew Chan said that even though Wong only stayed in the protest area for 90 minutes on the day in question, "his involvement in obstructing the clearance operation was deep and extensive".

Leaders of the 79-day civil disobedience movement rejected a August 31, 2014 decree from China's parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), which required the vetting of candidates for the city's top job by a pro-Beijing committee, as "fake universal suffrage". "The only appropriate punishment for (Wong) will be one of immediate imprisonment".

As he was being taken away to jail, Raphael Wong said: "Thank you, your honour, for your ruling".

After the sentence, both activists had sought a suspension of the sentence, hoping to file an appeal against it.

Chan said Raphael Wong wished to tell everyone that he was grateful for their support and that he will continue to read biographies, dictionaries and the Bible.

Wong had pleaded guilty to contempt of court for refusing to obey a court order to leave a protest site in the last days of demonstrations, known as the Umbrella Movement, that paralysed parts of Hong Kong without winning any concession from China.

Fourteen other defendants including leading activist Lester Shum were given suspended sentences on contempt charges.

While a spirited young generation has given Hong Kong's flagging push for democracy fresh impetus, some 100 key activists have, or could be, jailed in upcoming trials, in what critics say is an attempt to counter the movement's momentum.

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"They can lock up our bodies but they can't lock up our minds", he said outside the court.

Dozens of supporters gathered outside the High Court, chanting: "Civil disobedience, no fear!" and "I'm a Hong Konger, I want universal suffrage!"

The umbrellas carried by the protesters became a symbol for the democracy movement in Hong Kong. They displayed a banner calling the activists "mobsters" and saying they must "pay the price" in jail.

The wave of demonstrations was the biggest uprising for decades in Hong Kong, challenging China's Communist Party leaders in demanding democracy and defending the city's constitutionally enshrined freedoms.

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He is already on bail pending an appeal over a six-month sentence for another protest-related offence.

They were all sentenced to terms ranging from one month to four and a half months, with some fined HK$10,000 or HK$15,000, the court ordered.

The government's move was seen as further evidence of Beijing's growing influence over Hong Kong.

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