Hong Kong democracy leaders jailed over protests

Hong Kong: Four prominent leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy movement were jailed on Wednesday for their role in organising mass protests in 2014 that paralysed the city for months and infuriated Beijing.
Nine activists were all convicted earlier in April of at least one charge in a prosecution that deployed rarely used colonial-era public nuisance laws over their participation in the Umbrella Movement protests, which called for free elections to appoint the city’s leader.
Two key leaders of the mass protests — sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 60, and law professor Benny Tai, 54 — received the longest sentences of 16 months in jail, sparking tears in court and angry chants from hundreds of supporters gathered outside.
Two others — activist Raphael Wong and lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun — received eight months while the rest had their jail terms suspended or were given a community service order. One defendant, lawmaker Tanya Chan, had her sentencing adjourned because she needs surgery for a brain tumour.
The jail terms are the steepest yet for anyone involved in the 79-day protest which vividly illustrated the huge anger — particularly among Hong Kong’s youth — over the city’s leadership and direction.
As Wong was led away by guards he proclaimed: “Our determination to fight for democracy will not change.”
Tai and Chan founded a civil disobedience campaign known as “Occupy Central” in 2013 alongside 75-year-old Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, one of the defendants to have his jail term suspended.
Their original idea of taking to the streets to demand a fairer system was a precursor to the student-led Umbrella Movement a year later that brought parts of the city to a standstill. Authorities in Hong Kong and the mainland have defended the prosecutions as a necessary measure. — AFP