HK stu­dent leader charged over protests

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

Hong Kong stu­dent leader Joshua Wong slammed po­lice Thurs­day for what he called a “po­lit­i­cal pros­e­cu­tion” af­ter he was charged over protests which led to last year’s mass pro-democ­racy street ral­lies.

Wong, 18, who be­came the face of the democ­racy move­ment, is al­ready due in court Fri­day for sep­a­rate charges of ob­struct­ing po­lice at an ear­lier demon­stra­tion.

The teenager and other ac­tivists have ac­cused the author­i­ties of a witch hunt against those at the fore­front of the Um­brella Move­ment that brought parts of the city to a stand­still for more than two months.

Protesters called for fully free elec­tions of the city’s next leader, in the face of a con­tentious Bei­jing­backed po­lit­i­cal re­form pack­age in which can­di­dates would have been vet­ted by a loy­al­ist com­mit­tee.

That bill was ve­toed in June in an un­prece­dented re­buke to Bei­jing, leav­ing the city po­lit­i­cally po­lar­ized.

Wong was charged Thurs­day with “un­law­ful assem­bly, and in­cit­ing oth­ers to take part in an un­law­ful assem­bly.”

The charges, which could re­sult in a sen­tence of up to five years, re­late to a stu­dent protest on Septem­ber 26 last year dur­ing which some climbed into a square which is part of the city’s gov­ern­ment com­plex.

Wong and other ac­tivists were ar­rested, spark­ing wider demon­stra­tions which ex­ploded two days later when po­lice fired tear gas to dis­perse the crowds.

Thou­sands more took to the streets in the wake of what they saw as heavy-handed polic­ing.

No Re­grets

“To­day ... is po­lit­i­cal pros­e­cu­tion,” said Wong be­fore he en­tered a po­lice sta­tion Thurs­day in the cen­tral neigh­bor­hood of Wan Chai.

“Be­ing in­volved in the civic square ac­tion is the best mis­sion I have made in the four years I’ve been in­volved in so­cial move­ments,” he said.

“I will not re­gret it have to pay the price.”

When they emerged less than two hours later, Wong’s lawyer Michael Vi­dler con­firmed the teen had been charged.

“I think the whole ra­tio­nale for pro­ceed­ing at this stage, a year af­ter the event, is to­tally flawed,” Vi­dler said.

“In my view it’s a clear abuse of process.”

Prom­i­nent stu­dent pro­tester Alex Chow was also charged Thurs­day with tak­ing part in an un­law­ful assem­bly.

Stu­dent leader Nathan Law was charged with in­cit­ing oth­ers to take part in an un­law­ful assem­bly.

Around 40 sup­port­ers out­side the po­lice sta­tion held up yel­low um­brel­las — the sym­bol of the democ­racy move­ment — and shouted “CY step down!” re­fer­ring to the city’s un­pop­u­lar leader Le­ung Chung-ying.

“The po­lice were wait­ing for the

stu­dent

... even

if I right op­por­tu­nity so they wanted ev­ery­thing to die down,” Surya Deva, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the School of Law at the City Univer­sity of Hong Kong, told AFP.

“It was not a com­pli­cated crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion ... they should not be tak­ing al­most one year to pros­e­cute some­one,” Deva said.

The trio will have their charges heard at a mag­is­trates court on Sept. 2.

Wong and Law, 22, were brought to court last month on sep­a­rate charges of ob­struct­ing po­lice at an ear­lier protest in June 2014.

They were among dozens who had gath­ered out­side Bei­jing’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice in Hong Kong to op­pose a “white pa­per” from China that as­serted its con­trol over the semi-au­ton­o­mous city and a re­pro­duc­tion of the doc­u­ment was burned.

Both pleaded “not guilty” last month to those charges and will ap­pear in court Fri­day for the next hear­ing in the case.

AFP

Stu­dent protesters Joshua Wong, left, and Nathan Law talk to the media out­side the Wan­chai po­lice sta­tion in Hong Kong on Thurs­day, Aug. 27.

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