Hong Kong police on Monday charged nine organizers of the 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations, just a day after a new Beijing-backed leader was chosen, vowing to unite society.
The move provoked anger and disbelief among protesters and heightened political tension in the Chinese-ruled city.
“We want real universal suffrage,” over 100 supporters wielding yellow umbrellas, a symbol of the 2014 protests, shouted outside the Wanchai police headquarters on Monday night as the nine organizers went inside, pumping their fists into the air.
“Never give up.”
Former chief secretary Carrie Lam was chosen on Sunday by a 1,200-person committee to lead the city, pledging in her victory speech to unite political divisions that have hindered policy-making and legislative work.
The protest leaders dubbed “the Occupy trio” — law professor Benny Tai, sociology professor Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming — were each charged with conspiracy to commit public nuisance, incitement to commit public nuisance and incitement to incite public nuisance.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of seven years, Tai said, adding the activists might plead guilty, in a spirit of civil disobedience.
Six others including two legislators and two former student protest leaders were also charged with crimes related to public nuisance during the 2014 unrest, which brought parts of the city to a standstill for months.
“I am already mentally prepared for this, but I am very worried about Hong Kong’s future,” Chan told Reuters.
Amnesty Intl: Timing alarming
Amnesty International’s China researcher William Nee called the timing of the prosecutions “very alarming.”
“They’ve had years to consider these cases and they just decided to do this now. It does naturally make one think that political considerations might be at play,” Nee said.
It was not clear why authorities had waited so long to pursue the charges.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement the prosecution “should not be politicized.”
“Some people in the community surmise that action was taken against those involved in the ‘Occupy Movement’ today because they were so instructed by the Chief Executive-elect, Mrs Carrie Lam,” it said.
“The DoJ stresses that such surmising is completely baseless and utterly untrue.”
The police arrested a total of 1,003 people in relation to the protests, of whom 216 had been charged as of end of January, the Secretary for Justice said last month.
That included student protest leader Joshua Wong, who was found guilty of unlawful assembly but was spared jail time.
Don’t forget our elders can suffer in silence too: suicide prevention
Many people think that mental health and suicide are not topics that impact our elders but they could not be more wrong. The data tells us there continues to be an emerging trend when it comes to peop...
Wherever you look these days, not matter the developed country, whole population groups and peoples struggle with the daily grind of life. From children in state care to mental health, from affordable housing to the primary health system and from education to employmen...
For the last few years I have been fortunate to have been involved in the aged care sector and have seen both the lows and highs. Today we live in a world where most of us are living longer thank to more awareness around healthy living, the advancement of better medica...
You can’t go past a news paper, radio show or television news story these days without being flooded by all things Bitcoin or Crypto Currency. Some say it’s the new world of money while others suggest its all just a passing fad. Whatever your position or preference of...