Hong Kong Protest Leader warns against a new wave of political persecutions
Hong Kong police on Monday told at least nine organizers of 2014’s pro-democracy demonstrations they will face charges, protest leaders said, an ominous sign just a day after a new Beijing-backed leader was chosen, vowing to unite society.
Protest leader Joshua Wong said on Twitter on Monday that a “large scale political persecution” was expected.
HK Police starts to arrest activists of the Umbrella Movement in 2014 THE NEXT DAY Carrie Lam were selected as the Chief Executive.
— Joshua Wong Chi-fung (@joshuawongcf) March 27, 2017
The move, which has already provoked anger and disbelief among the city’s democrats, heightened political tension in the Chinese-ruled city, with a protest rally to be held outside police headquarters in the Wanchai bar district on Monday night.
Former chief secretary Carrie Lam was chosen by a 1,200-person committee to lead the city, pledging in her victory speech to unite political divisions that have hindered policy-making and legislative work.
But the timing of the telephone calls, almost two and a half years after the protests brought parts of the city to a standstill for months, is unlikely to help heal wounds.
Sociology professor Chan Kin-man, one of the core protest leaders, said police told him he would be charged with three crimes, including participating and inciting others to participate in “public nuisance”.
“I am already mentally prepared for this, but I am very worried about Hong Kong’s future,” Chan told Reuters.
It wasn’t immediately clear why authorities had waited so long to pursue the charges. The police did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Asked by reporters about the timing, Lam said she couldn’t intervene with prosecutions carried out by the administration of incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying.
“I made it very clear that I want to unite society and bridge the divide that has been causing us concern, but all these actions should not compromise the rule of law in Hong Kong and also the independent prosecution process that I have just mentioned,” said Lam, who will take office on July 1.
Chan, however, disputed this.
“The message is strong. Carrie Lam said she wanted to mend the society, but the message we got today is prosecution. I don’t see how the society’s cracks can be mended,” Chan told Reuters.
Tommy Cheung Sau-yin, a former core member of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), confirmed to HKFP that he will be charged.
The three conveners of the protests – Professors Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man, and reverend Chu Yiu-ming – have also received calls.
Other charged are Democratic Party former lawmaker Lee Wing-tat. Former HKFS Standing Committee member Eason Chung Yiu-wah, Raphael Wong Ho-ming, vice chairman of the League of Social Democrats, and Lawmakers Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun.
Some of those targeted are facing the common law charge of public nuisance. Offenders face a maximum penalty of seven years behind bars.
(Reuters, HKFP, pht)