HONG KONG (SE): The people of Hong Kong were urged not to lose hope and to keep fighting for democracy during a candlelight vigil outside the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre where four leaders of the Umbrella Movement in 2014 (Occupy Central), who were convicted on public nuisance charges, were detained after their sentencing.
In a decision handed down by Johnny Chan Jong-heng at West Kowloon Court on April 24, two founders of the movement, Benny Tai Yiu-ting and Chan Kin-man were sentenced to 16 months in jail, while legislator, Shiu Ka-chun and vice-chairperson of the League of Social Democrats, Raphael Wong Ho-ming, were given eight-month terms.
Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, 75, the third founder, was given a 16-month sentence, suspended for two years, due to poor health and his contributions to society over the years.
In consideration of their youth, former student leaders, 25-year-old Tommy Cheung Sau-yin, and 26-year-old Eason Chung Yiu-wa, were respectively sentenced to 200 hours of community service, and an eight-months sentence suspended for two years.
The sentencing of 47-year-old lawmaker, Tanya Chan, was adjourned because of urgent medical reasons. She is slated to undergo brain surgery in early May.
Former lawmaker, Lee Wing-tat, 63, had his eight-month term suspended for two years due to his years of public service.
The candlelight vigil, organised by a group of Umbrella Movement participants, was attended by more than a thousand people. Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Reverend Chu, Tommy Cheung and Lee Wing-tat took turns to speak and encouraged people not to give up the fight for universal suffrage. The vigil was also held in support the families of the four imprisoned.
The Justice and Peace Commission also issued a statement on April 24 urging Hong Kong people not to lose their hope for democracy and to keep fighting.
The statement said the convicted leaders were imprisoned for fighting for justice. It said that as long as justice is not upheld, there will always be people challenging those in governance and causing nuisance from the government’s point of view.
It also reinstated the meaning of civil disobedience and emphasised that the law of God overrides laws made by people.
However, the commission also urged people not to bear hatred and to follow the example of Jesus Christ, who never bore a grudge against authority even while he was tortured.
It called on people to be encouraged by Jesus, as love, peace and justice did not disappear with the crucifixion, but rose victorious from the grave with his resurrection.
Jackie Hung Ling-yu, project officer of the commission, criticised the Hong Kong government for failing to address the demands of the people from the start of the Umbrella Movement up to the time of the court’s decision.
She said that, as more and more people with selfless intentions were sent to jail, the government has yet to consider why people of find it necessary to break the law to fight for what they want.
The commission launched a campaign encouraging people to write letters to the four imprisoned leaders, which will be delivered to the prison through the commission.