June 4 activists protest jail terms for unlawful assembly

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 3:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 3:43pm

Two of the eight activists convicted of unlawful assembly after last year’s June 4 vigil were sentenced to four weeks in jail, suspended for a year, on Friday.

Bobo Yip Po-lam, 32, and her fiancée, Icarus Wong Ho-yin, 28, received a heavier sentence than six others for initiating the rally and mobilising protesters to charge a police cordon, Magistrate Joseph To Ho-shing said. Fifty-three people were arrested.

Yip was also fined HK$3,000 and Wong HK$2,400.

Six others – Chu Hoi-dick, Chu Kong-wai, Lee Sai-hung, Kitty Hung Hiu-han, Alan Ming Wai-tim and Chan Ping-fung, aged 23 to 53 – were assessed fines ranging from HK$800 to HK$2,400.

Some of them were also convicted of assisting, or taking part in, an unauthorised assembly.

Handing down his sentence, To criticised the activists as “imperious” and “irrational” for placing themselves above the law, the court and international human rights organisations.

“The defendants think they can overtop the law. They broke the law first, then ignored police order and charged police cordon. Finally, they condemned police,” he said.

More than 40 activists and defendants’ family members filled the court room. Some had to sit on the floor.

The court heard that 150 people marched from Victoria Park to North Point police station on June 4 last year, after an annual candle light vigil commemorating the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square.

They were marching to protest against the arrest of 113 people at a demonstration in March against the government’s budget.

Clashes broke out after they were stopped at the junction of King’s Road and Tin Chong Street in North Point.

The marchers did not obtain a notice of no objection from the police, a document required for a demonstration, but told the police verbally about their protest.

Reports showed the defendants were not suitable for probations or community services as they said they would still take part in protests for social justice and could not promise they would not commit the offence again, the court heard.

To said the sentences would not impede anyone from exercising their freedoms of speech and to demonstrate, as long as it was done lawfully.

Outside the court, Wong said all the activists would lodge an appeal because they thought the Public Order Ordinance, which the court used to prosecute them, was outdated and against human rights.

“You can see the court is handing down prison sentences for protest organisers,” he said. “This should be worrying for future social movements.”