(Hong Kong—April 9, 2019) Hong Kong’s court system convicted nine pro-democracy leaders involved in the territory’s 2014 Umbrella Movement today.
The nine defendants, collectively known as the “Umbrella Nine,” are Professors Benny Tai and Chan Kin-man, Rev. Chu Yiu-ming, Raphael Wong, Eason Chung, Tommy Cheung, political figures Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun, and the policymaker Lee Wing-tat, according to the Guardian. All nine participated in the Umbrella Movement, which was a 2014 peaceful protest in response to reforms from China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress that placed more power in selecting Hong Kong’s lawmakers into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Guardian also noted that Chan Kin-man, Tai, and Chu were convicted of “rarely used colonial-era public nuisance charges,” and Tai, Chan Kin-man, Tanya Chan, Wong, Chung, Shiu, and Cheung were all found guilty of “inciting others to cause a public nuisance….” Of those, Wong, Tanya Chan, Chung, Cheung, and Shiu were also ruled guilty of causing others to incite public nuisance, the Guardian reported.
The convictions come shortly after a proposal that would pave the way to extradite individuals charged with a crime to the mainland for prosecution, despite regulations that ensure Hong Kong maintains its own administrative system. Ever since Britain ceded Hong Kong to China in 1997, China has ruled Hong Kong under a “One Country, Two Systems” policy, meaning that even though the Chinese Communist Party is still the head of the territory, Hong Kong is technically allowed its own financial and governing apparatuses. As a result, many believe the guilty verdicts for the Nine and the extradition bill are examples of increased Chinese interference with the rights of Hong Kong’s citizens.