Hong Kong: Final “Umbrella Nine” pro-democracy activist sentenced

“All of the convictions against the Umbrella Nine should be quashed. This is the latest dark chapter in the curtailing of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong.
Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong

Responding to the eight-month suspended prison sentence of Hong Kong lawmaker Tanya Chan for her role in the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests, Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong said:

“Tanya Chan’s conviction and sentence are grossly unjust and should be overturned. She, like all the Umbrella Nine, was prosecuted solely for peacefully advocating for democracy in Hong Kong.

“All of the convictions against the Umbrella Nine should be quashed, and the four activists currently in jail must be immediately and unconditionally released.

“This is the latest dark chapter in the curtailing of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong. The government must stop abusing the law and the judicial system to criminalize peaceful protesters and silence debate on democracy and other views Beijing deems problematic in Hong Kong.”

Background

Tanya Chan is the last of the “Umbrella Nine” leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy protests to be sentenced. Her eight-month prison term is to be suspended for two years. Her sentencing had been adjourned so she could undergo surgery for a life-threatening condition for which she is still receiving medical treatment.

On 9 April, Tanya Chan and eight other activists were convicted of vague and ambiguous “public nuisance”–related charges for using a loudspeaker to urge participants to join the protests, which the government accused of obstructing public places and roads during the 2014 protests.

On 24 April, four of the “Umbrella Nine” leaders were given jail terms ranging from eight to 16 months in prison at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts. Legal scholar Professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting and sociologist Professor Chan Kin-man each received 16 months’ imprisonment. Political party leader Raphael Wong and lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun were each sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment. Others were given suspended sentences or ordered to carry out community service. All filed appeals against their convictions.

The vague and ambiguous criminal charges are “conspiracy to commit public nuisance”, “incitement to commit public nuisance” and “incitement to incite public nuisance”. It is the first time the Hong Kong government has used these charges against peaceful protesters.

In a briefing published ahead of the November 2018 trial of the nine activists sentenced in this case, Amnesty International outlined why the prosecution amounts to an attack on the human rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.