Two jailed in Hong Kong over riot protests
Hong Kong, China - Two Hong Kong men were jailed for three years on rioting charges on Monday, the latest in a series of legal actions against demonstrators.
The unrest in February 2016 saw police fire warning shots in the air in the commercial district of Mong Kok as they clashed with protesters who hurled bricks torn up from pavements and set rubbish alight.
It was the worst violence the city had seen for decades.
The demonstrations were led by ‘localist’ activists seeking more autonomy from Beijing, as fears grow that Hong Kong’s freedoms and identity are under threat from Chinese authorities and the city’s pro-China local government.
The violent protests contrasted with the largely peaceful pro-democracy Umbrella Movement rallies of late 2014, which brought some busy streets to a standstill for more than two months.
Law Ho-yin and Lin Yun-faat, both in their 20s, were given three-year sentences on Monday after being found guilty last month.
Chris Yung (19) was sent to a correctional training centre for up to three years.
They all denied the charges. “Rioting is a very serious offence,” said judge Frankie Yiu. “Sentencing should be severe and serve as a deterrent.”
The court heard that Yung and Law were masked and often at the frontline of the clashes.
Lin had hurled bricks and was subdued by police, Yiu said in sentencing.
The 2016 violence was triggered by official attempts to remove illegal hawkers from the busy commercial neighbourhood during Lunar New Year celebrations.
The battles were dubbed the ‘fishball revolution’ after a favourite Hong Kong street snack sold by the hawkers, and reflected underlying tensions over the erosion of the city’s traditions.
This file photo shows Hong Kong riot police silhouetted as rioters burn debris on a street, in Hong Kong on February 9, 2016