rison sentences have been handed down to the leaders of the pro-democracy Occupy protests in Hong Kong which ground the city to a standstill for 79 days in 2014 as thousands of protesters marched and demonstrated, calling for the right to elect their own leaders.
Earlier this month, nine pro-democracy activists — now known as the Umbrella 9 — were convicted on rarely-used colonial-era “public nuisance” charges for their roles in setting up the protests. Their sentences were handed down on Wednesday morning at West Kowloon Magistrates Court by Judge Johnny Chan who accused them of failing to show regret for the “inconvenience and suffering” that their movement had caused.
The harshest punishments were the 16-month prison sentences given to 60-year-old sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 54-year-old law professor Benny Tai, and 75-year-old retired Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming. The three are known as the “Occupy trio” for their role in founding the protests. Chu’s sentence was suspended for two years.
Meanwhile, activists Raphael Wong and Shiu Ka-chun were each sentenced to eight months in prison while Eason Chung and Lee Wing-tat had their eight-month sentences suspended for two years.
Raphael Wong and Shiu Ka-chun were sentenced to eight months while former student leader Eason Chung and Democratic party member Lee Wing-tat were given eight-month sentences suspended for two years. Tommy Cheung was given 200 hours of community service and Tanya Chan’s sentencing was delayed to June after revealing to the court that she has a life-threatening brain condition.
The sentences are just the latest blow for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. The 2014 Occupy protests were sparked after Beijing handed down a decision mandating that candidates for Hong Kong’s top office be pre-screened by the Chinese Communist Party and ended without resolution.
While some pro-democracy activists gained worldwide attention and were elected to local offices, they have also removed from office, barred from seeking election, and jailed as Beijing has exerted a tighter and tighter grip upon the former British colony. Last year, the Hong Kong government issued an unprecedented ban against one pro-independence political party.