Vigil supports jailed Hong Kong democracy activists

Four of nine defendants sent to prison for 2014 Occupy Central mass protest
Vigil supports jailed Hong Kong democracy activists

Hong Kong people light candles to support the jailed Occupy Movement leaders on April 24. (ucanews.com photo)

More than 1,000 people attended a candlelight vigil to support four Hong Kong democracy activists who have been jailed for their part in the mass Occupy Central protest in the Chinese territory.

The event was held on April 24 in front of Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, where the jailed leaders were taken after their sentencing the same day.

They were among nine defendants convicted on April 9 of causing public nuisance during the civil disobedience protest in 2014.

The Occupy Central movement’s three co-founders — law professor Benny Tai Yiu-ting, 54, retired sociologist Chan Kin-man, 60, and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, 75 — were jailed for 16 months but Rev. Chu had his term suspended for two years.

Lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun, 49, and League of Social Democrats vice-chairman Raphael Wong Ho-ming, 30, were each sentenced to eight months in jail.

Former lawmaker Lee Wing-tat, 63, and former student leader Eason Chung Yiu-wa, 26, received eight-month jail terms suspended for two years, while former student leader Tommy Cheung Sau-yin, 25, was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

Lawmaker Tanya Chan, 47, had her sentencing adjourned after her lawyer revealed that she was suffering from a serious brain tumor and would have to undergo surgery in two weeks.

In the vigil, retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong said he believes the imprisoned leaders have inner peace because of their Christian faith.

As a Catholic cleric, the 87-year-old cardinal has fewer limits on visiting jailed activists. He promised to represent supporters by visiting the four Occupy Central activists regularly.

Daisy Chan, a Catholic who was deeply involved in the movement, took part in the vigil because she wanted to show her support and solidarity.

“There is no free lunch for democracy. Political reform will definitely come again. The Hong Kong government and the Communist Party will not stop their suppression of the democratic movement. We have to prepare for a harder situation while fighting for democracy,” she told ucanews.com.

Christian pastor Wu Chi-wai believed that so many people supported the four jailed activists because they were called by justice.

“The Church has to hold the truth and resist all kinds of falsehood. Although the situation is not optimistic, our Christian faith gives us strength to overcome it and brings us hope,” Rev. Wu told ucanews.com 

Rev. Chu said the activists will discuss with their lawyers whether to appeal against their sentences. He said he had surrendered to police only for participating in an illegal assembly but not for causing public nuisance, adding that such a charge and judgement were unreasonable.

The Justice and Peace Commission of Hong Kong expressed its disappointment and anger after the sentencing. “This is a great setback to the democratic movement of Hong Kong,” it said in a statement.

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