September 9th 2017

  Buy Issue 3004

Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Our unsafe schools are putting students at risk

EDITORIAL Turnbull needs a circuit breaker or he's a goner

CANBERRA OBSERVED 'What's the question?' is the crucial question

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Beijing applauds jailing of Hong Kong activists

NATIONAL AFFAIRS The economic agenda Australia needs won't come from Mal or Bill

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY Child-support payments and parental alienation

MARRIAGE AND LAW NSW Law Society spruiks for same-sex marriage

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Germany's energy plan: a disaster in the making

MUSIC Monetising the muse: 'Frugal comfort' would be welcome

CINEMA Logan Lucky: Southern fried robbery

BOOK REVIEW Serious Bioethics salted with humour




CANBERRA OBSERVED Love may be love, but certainly consequences are consequences

Books promotion page

Beijing applauds jailing of Hong Kong activists

by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, September 9, 2017

Following an appeal launched by Hong Kong’s prosecutor’s office, Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal has imprisoned 11 student activists who had been convicted of participation in an illegal assembly, and three student leaders of the Umbrella Movement who were involved in a separate protest at the Legislative Council precinct against government attempts to restrict democracy.

100,000 protested against the convictions.

There was a furious response from Hong Kong citizens, with a huge crowd estimated at over 100,000 protesting against the convictions.

The imprisonments follow a year of turmoil that included the government’s bid to prevent democratically elected opposition MPs who refused to accept Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong from sitting in the legislature.

Beijing has repeatedly refused to allow Hong Kong to enjoy full democracy, insisting on controlling the legislature through people nominated by pro-Beijing businesses and the professions.

Despite the fact that a clear majority has repeatedly voted for pro-democracy candidates, they have been outvoted by Beijing’s nominees, who control the legislature and fill all the major positions in the administration.


After three student activists were convicted of unlawful assembly in April 2016, the magistrate ordered that, as none had prior convictions, they should serve community service, which they have already undertaken.

Eleven security guards and police suffered minor injuries during scuffles at the protest. The Government then appealed, taking the matter to the Court of Appeal, which did as Beijing wanted.

The Court of Appeal said: “The trial magistrate did not consider that the sentence should have a deterrent element, while giving disproportionate weight to factors such as personal circumstances and the respondents’ motives.

“The trial magistrate did not think the case involved serious acts of violence. However, she ignored the fact that the rally was a large-scale unlawful assembly, where the risk of violent conflicts was high.

“Given the prevailing and objective circumstances, the respondents should have reasonably expected the people involved in the incident would clash with security guards and police officers, and that injuries would then be inevitable. However, the trial magistrate completely ignored this point.

“The trial magistrate overlooked that, before the incident happened that night, the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholars had finished the rally on the road next to the government offices, and the area in front of the government offices was closed. They had no absolute right to enter the area to hold the rally, but they insisted on illegally entering it by force. They also encouraged or incited others to illegally enter it by force. They thought they were correct in doing so and their acts were in breach of the law.

“The trial magistrate gave disproportionate weight to remorse as a factor in sentencing. In fact, the respondents … still insisted that they were correct in entering the area by force. It was because they always thought they were simply exercising their freedoms of speech and of assembly. The first respondent even said in his community service order report that he had no remorse at all for what he did. The third respondent also made a similar statement in his community service order report.”

In sentencing the three young activists, the Vice-President of the Court of Appeal, Wally Yeung Chun-kuen warned that in recent years, some people had “deliberately engaged in illegal acts under the excuse of pursuing ideals”.

“An unhealthy trend has been spreading in Hong Kong … as some people, including intellectuals, shouted the slogan of ‘achieving justice by breaking the law’,” Yeung claimed.

His comments prove that the students were imprisoned for political rather than legal reasons, to make an example of them and deter others from embarking on the same course.

The sentences will have adverse implications for the students’ future careers, as they were designed to have.

One of the imprisoned students, 20-year-old Joshua Wong, tweeted: “They can silence protests, remove us from the legislature and lock us up. But they will not win the hearts and minds of Hongkongers.”

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who heads the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said in a statement that the “shameful” resentencing showed that “Hong Kong’s cherished autonomy is precipitously eroding”.

He added: “Beijing’s heavy hand is on display for all to see as they attempt to crush the next generation of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement and undermine the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement.

“Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, Alex Chow, and other Umbrella Movement protesters are pro-democracy champions worthy of admiration, not criminals deserving jail time.”

Human Rights Watch’s China director, Sophie Richardson, said: “From the initial choice to prosecute these young democrats through to today’s hearing, these cases have been shot through by politics, not law. That Hong Kong’s courts increasingly appear to operate as mainland courts do is clear evidence that ‘one country, two systems’ is on the ropes – with ominous consequences for all.”

Listen to
News Weekly Podcasts

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

Join email list

Join e-newsletter list

Your cart has 0 items

Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers

Trending articles

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL FREE: The commentary file

RURAL AFFAIRS A national disgrace: Our great land sale

ROYAL COMMISSION Hatchet job on Cardinal Pell breached basic principle of fairness

COVER STORY Justice at last: Cardinal Pell set free

EDITORIAL Australia needs an economic reset after covid19 crisis

CANBERRA OBSERVED The very young can still be 'taken care of' during the covid19 outbreak

COVER STORY Gearing up to ditch free-trade policy

© Copyright 2017
Last Modified:
April 4, 2018, 6:45 pm