Two Hong Kong activists admit roles in anti-Beijing protest, where crowds thronged liaison office and charged at officers
Ivan Lam and Derek Lam were involved in a November 6, 2016 demonstration motivated by rumours that Beijing would interpret Hong Kong’s mini-constitution
Two Hong Kong pro-democracy activists on Monday admitted urging demonstrators to deviate from a police-approved marching route in November 2016, with the crowd continuing to Beijing’s liaison office in the city where they charged at officers behind barricades.
Demosisto member Ivan Lam Long-yin, 23, and his former party colleague Derek Lam Shun-hin, 24, pleaded guilty before magistrate Peony Wong Nga-yan to charges of unlawful assembly and incitement to behave in a disorderly manner in a public place respectively.
They will be sentenced at a later date.
The West Kowloon Court heard the two men were part of a rally organised by the Civil Human Rights Front on November 6, as rumours swirled that the central government would issue an interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law.
Beijing’s move was prompted by the oath-taking antics of two lawmakers – Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang – at the Legislative Council.
The police had issued a notice allowing protesters to gather in Wan Chai at 3pm on the day of the rally and march to Central, where they could stay until 11.59pm.
There were about 8,000 participants at the height of the rally but some did not follow the protest route and instead went to the central government’s liaison office in Sai Wan.
Among them, Ivan Lam waved and directed protesters to walk on, while Derek Lam – who was still a party member at the time – told protesters to go to the liaison office with the use of a megaphone.
Outside the office, the group – which totalled more than 500 people – followed police instructions to remain in a designated public area nearby.
But as Derek Lam picked up his megaphone at 7.45pm to chant another round of slogans including “Oppose the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s interpretation! Storm the liaison office!”, some 30 protesters charged and climbed over metal barricades despite repeated police warnings.
Ivan Lam was also filmed pushing the barricades towards officers, while other protesters threw objects such as water bottles and umbrellas at the police, which prompted them to use pepper spray.
The commotion lasted for about 20 minutes, until protesters successfully occupied two traffic lanes.
On November 7, China’s top legislative body approved the Basic Law interpretation, requiring all public officials to take their oaths “sincerely” and “solemnly” or face disqualification. This eventually resulted in Yau, Leung and four other lawmakers losing their seats.
Seven other defendants, including League of Social Democrats chairman Avery Ng Man-yuen, in the present case have all pleaded not guilty to similar charges of incitement, unlawful assembly and obstruction of police.
The two Lams will be sentenced after the trial of their co-defendants, who will return to the same court for a pre-trial review on April 23.