Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong are under a sustained attack, Amnesty International said, after police informed several leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement today that they will face charges.
The news came a day after Carrie Lam was selected as the city’s new chief executive by a 1,200-strong committee largely made of political appointees handpicked by Beijing. Those informed by police that they will face public order charges include student leaders Tommy Cheung and Chung Yiu-wa, legislators Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun and Professor Benny Tai, Professor Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, who launched the Occupy Central civil disobedience campaign.
In response Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:
“The ongoing targeting of prominent figures of the Umbrella Movement is a blow to the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong. This vindictiveness shows contempt for well-established freedoms in Hong Kong and will only lead to more political tensions.
“The authorities have had years to consider these cases. The timing of the charges, the day after Carrie Lam won the closed race to be the city’s new chief executive, raises serious questions as to whether political maneuverings were a factor in the decision to bring charges now.”