News World Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders to stand trial

Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders to stand trial

Protesters march on July 1, 2017 to remember the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong. Photo: AFP/Getty
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Nine pro-democracy activists are set to go on trial next Monday in connection with their leading roles in the 2014 Umbrella Revolution protests in Hong Kong.

It will be one of the most high-profile cases since the prosecution of Joshua Wong two years ago.

The group includes Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man, and Reverend Chu Yiu-Ming, who founded Occupy Central with Love and Peace, one of the founding groups behind the 79-day protest in 2014 known as the Umbrella Movement, which called for universal suffrage.

Six other Umbrella Revolution leaders, including two sitting legislators, are also to stand trial.

Umbrella Movement founder Benny Tai calls for democratic reforms with some of the other accused in September 2017. Photo: AFP/Getty

They each face up to seven years in prison for charges related to “public nuisance,” including “conspiracy to commit public nuisance,” and “incitement to commit public nuisance.”

Chan, Chu and Tai also face a charge of “incitement to incite public nuisance”.

Tai told dpa he could not comment on the outcome of the trial but that he and the others were making preparations for possible prison time.

“I have confidence the court in Hong Kong is still independent and fair. Yet, I have prepared for the worst,” he said by email.

“When we proposed civil disobedience in 2013, we had accepted the possibility of being sued in the court, convicted and jailed.”

Tai added that “the worst is yet to come,” as he fears that Hong Kong will become more “authoritarian.”

The continued prosecution of Umbrella Movement leaders has been criticised by human rights groups including Amnesty International, which said last week the trials were having a “chilling effect on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression” in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets for 79 days in 2014 when it became clear that only candidates vetted by Beijing would be allowed to run for chief executive.