Banners calling for Hong Kong independence reappeared in the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) on Tuesday, prompting the university authorities to issue a warning. Kevin Yam Kin-fung, founder of the Progressive Lawyers Group, said the flyers and posters had merely discussed the issues and did not insinuate or encourage others to harm the regime. Hence, no law was broken, he argued.
As he curled his spindly legs around the metal bars, the sight of the bespectacled teenager with his floppy mop of hair valiantly trying to scale the three-metre-high barrier, along with fellow student leader Alex Chow Yong-kang, galvanised others into action. Another youth leader, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, then on stage at the demonstration, called on the others to join in the storming of the forecourt that they had dubbed “Civic Square”. They wanted to “reclaim” the space that had been the site of previous protests, they declared.
Three years after the 79-day Occupy protests calling for greater democracy in Hong Kong, the young leaders of the movement are going to jail. Joshua Wong, 20, Nathan Law, 24, and Alex Chow, 26, were sentenced to six months, eight months, and seven months, respectively, by a court in Hong Kong today (Aug. 17) for their actions in the 2014 protests, also known as the Umbrella Movement. Wilson Leung, a practicing lawyer in Hong Kong and member of the Progressive Lawyers Group, said that he still believes judges in Hong Kong are independent of the government. “However, we strongly disagree with the government treating political problems as ‘law and order’ problems and focusing on the prosecution of protestors,” he said.
On August 17, a Hong Kong appeals court sentenced student democracy activists Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, and Nathan Law to six to eight months imprisonment. The three had earlier been convicted of crimes related to unlawful assembly during a demonstration in 2014 when they had crossed a police barrier, but the lower court had sentenced them only to community service and a suspended jail sentence, arguing that their breach had been a form of political expression. But even in Hong Kong, a city which has enjoyed political freedoms absent elsewhere in China, it was the preservation of “public order” the court chose to emphasize. “To disrupt public order and public peace in the name of free exercise of powers,” said court Vice President Wally Yeung Chun-kuen, “will cause our society to descend into chaos.” The new sentence, which the three plan to appeal, also carries a five-year prohibition on running for elected office in Hong Kong. Progressive Lawyers Group member Alvin Y.H. Cheung was interviewed by ChinaFile about the jailed activists.
Hong Kong’s democracy movement has suffered the latest setback in what has been a punishing year after three of its most influential young leaders were jailed for their roles in a protest at the start of a 79-day anti-government occupation known as the umbrella movement. “It smacks of political imprisonment, plain and simple,” said Jason Ng, a member of the Progressive Lawyers Group and the author of Umbrellas in Bloom, a book about Hong Kong’s youth protest movement.
Nearly three years ago, several Hong Kong youth with hopes of greater democracy led a downtown protest that ballooned into thousands and lasted for 79 days. Now, they’re going to jail. “It felt like a punch in the stomach,” said Jason Y. Ng, a lawyer, a member of the Progressive Lawyers Group and personal friend of Wong’s, who has written a book about the Umbrella Movement.
It is the third concern group to be set up on the issue as both sides of Hong Kong’s political divide mobilise campaigns for and against the proposal for joint immigration and customs checks in the city. Kevin Yam Kin-fung, convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group, said the Hong Kong government’s decision to use Article 20 of the Basic Law to lease land to mainland authorities could set a dangerous precedent.
原為律師的Antony Dapiran在1994年由澳洲來港，他對香港歷史的興趣由抗爭而起，在雨傘運動期間撰寫報道，後追溯香港的抗爭歷史，寫下《City of Protest: A Recent History of Dissent in Hong Kong》。他最後選擇脫下律師袍，從文學角度繼續書寫。
Kevin Yam of the Progressive Lawyers Group said the city government would potentially create an act of state, which Hong Kong courts are unable to scrutinize. “What they are doing is not to uphold the constitutionality of that [co-location] proposal, but really to try to shield it from the constitutional scrutiny,” Yam said, adding that the enforcement of mainland laws even in a small part of Hong Kong is in direct contravention of explicit requirements under the Basic Law.
Progressive Lawyers Group Convenor Kevin Yam was interviewed by ViuTV on his views on the controversial co-location arrangement. "The situation before us is very clear, (the proposed co-location arrangement) does not conform with the Basic Law", he said. You can watch the full interview here.