Hong Kong: Judicial harassment and sentencing of ’Umbrella Movement’ protesters

25/04/2019
Urgent Appeal

HKG 001 / 0419 / OBS 036
Sentencing/
Judicial harassment
Hong Kong
April 25, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Hong Kong.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing of eight of the nine Hong Kong pro-democracy activists who led Hong Kong’s 2014 ‘Umbrella Movement’ [1]: Messrs. Benny Tai, a legal scholar; Chan Kin-man, a retired sociology professor; Chu Yiu-ming, a pastor; Raphael Wong, an activist and Vice-Chairman of the League of Social Democrats party; Shiu Ka-chun, a social worker and member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong; Eason Chung, a former student leader; Lee Wing-tat, a former member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong; and Tommy Cheung, a former student leader. The sentencing of the ninth leader, Ms. Tanya Chan, a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong, has been delayed. The movement organised peaceful demonstrations, including rallies and sit-ins in public spaces to protest the decision by China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) that imposed a selective pre-screening of candidates for the 2017 election of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive and to demand universal suffrage in Hong Kong [2]. The protests shut down various parts of Hong Kong for 79 days, from September 28 to December 15, 2014.

According to the information received, on April 9, 2019, the nine defenders were convicted on various public nuisance and incitement charges and on April 24, 2019, the Hong Kong District Court determined the punishment.

Messrs. Chan Kin-man, Benny Tai and Chu Yiu-ming were found guilty of “conspiracy to commit public nuisance” and sentenced to 16 months in prison each, although Mr. Chu’s sentence was suspended for two years, in consideration of his age - he is 60 years old - and his past contribution to society.

Messrs. Chan Kin-man, Benny Tai, and Lee Wing-tat were convicted of “incitement to commit public nuisance” and sentenced to eight months in prison, to be served immediately; Ms. Tanya Chan and Messrs. Shiu Ka-chun, Eason Chung, Tommy Cheung, and Raphael Wong were convicted of both “incitement to commit public nuisance” and “incitement to incite public nuisance”. Messrs. Eason Chung and Lee Wing-tat were sentenced to eight months in prison but their sentences were suspended for two years in consideration of their past contribution to society and young age, respectively. Mr. Tommy Cheung was sentenced to 200 hours of community service, to be served within a year. Ms. Tanya Chan’s sentencing was delayed to June 10, 2019, for medical reasons.

The ‘Umbrella Nine’ 20-days trial took place before the District Court between November 19, 2018 and December 14, 2018. During the trial, the prosecution argued that the activists were responsible for causing “unreasonable obstruction” by occupying public roads and were also guilty of incitement because they had called on the public to join them. The nine defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Observatory condemns the sentencing and judicial harassment of the ‘Umbrella Nine’, as these actions seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and their right to freedom of peaceful assembly. The Observatory urges the authorities of Hong Kong to end any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against the nine protesters.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Hong Kong asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Chan Kin-man, Benny Tai, Raphael Wong, and Shiu Ka-chun;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man, Chu Yiu-ming, Raphael Wong, Shiu Ka-chun, Eason Chung, Lee Wing-tat, and Tommy Cheung, Ms. Tanya Chan as well as all other human rights defenders in Hong Kong;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man, Chu Yiu-ming, Raphael Wong, Shiu Ka-chun, Eason Chung, Lee Wing-tat, and Tommy Cheung, Ms. Tanya Chan, and all other human rights defenders in Hong Kong, and ensure they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;

iv. Respect, protect, and fulfil Hong Kong’s obligations in accordance with Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on the right to peaceful assembly;

v. Conform to all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, and 12;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments applicable to Hong Kong.

Addresses:

Ms. Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Email: ceo@ceo.gov.hk, Phone: +852 2878 3300, Fax: +852 2509 0580;
Ms. Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, Secretary for Justice, Email: dojinfo@doj.gov.hk , Phone: +852 2867 2198, Fax: +852 3918 4249;
Mr. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Chief Secretary for Administration, Email: cso@cso.gov.hk, Fax: +852 2882 0099;
Mr. Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Email: cmabenq@cmab.gov.hk , Fax: +852 2810 2059;

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Hong Kong in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, April 25, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29

[1] The name “Umbrella Movement’ derives from the fact that protesters used umbrellas to fend off police pepper spray, tear-gas, and batons.
[2] Demonstrators rejected the August 31, 2014 decision of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on the “selection” of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, which required candidates to be endorsed by a majority of a Beijing-controlled nominating committee.

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