Local authorities have charged three prominent Hong Kong student leaders on Thursday over their involvement in the pro-democracy protests of 2014.
Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow are accused of climbing a fence to break into a government compound at the start of the popular “Umbrella Movement.” The protests began in late September and demanded major changes to Hong Kong electoral system.
At the height of the protest, thousands of people occupied major streets demanding fully free elections for the city’s next leader, in the face of a contentious Beijing-backed political reform package in which candidates would have been vetted by a loyalist committee.
The student activists were among a large group of people who stormed the fenced-off Civic Square, which is part of the city’s government complex on 26th of September 2014. Wong and other activists were arrested, sparking wider demonstrations which exploded two days later when police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Mr. Chow has been charged with taking part in an unlawful assembly and Mr. Law with inciting others to take part, while Mr. Wong faces both charges. The co-founder of Scholarism movement Mr. Wong called it a political prosecution said he would not regret his actions.
“Being involved in the civic square action is the best mission I have made in the four years I’ve been involved in social student movements,” said Joshua Wong, 18-year-old student leader charged over the 2014 protests.
Mr. Wong and other activists have accused the authorities of a witch hunt against those at the forefront of the Umbrella Movement that brought parts of the city to a standstill for more than two months. If convicted, the teenager activist faces a maximum of five years in prison and he is already due in court Friday for separate charges of obstructing police at an earlier demonstration.
Supporters holding yellow umbrellas gathered outside the police station and shouted “CY step down” referring to the city’s leader Leung Chung-ying. The trio will have their charges heard at a magistrate court on second of September. IMAGE/Jerome Favre/EPA