HONG KONG (Reuters) – A Hong Kong court jailed four leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy “Occupy” movement on Wednesday amid heightened concerns over the decline of freedoms in the China-ruled city nearly five years after activists took to the streets in mass protests.
The sentencing followed a near month-long trial that was closely watched as China’s Communist Party leaders have put Hong Kong’s autonomy under increasing strain, stoking concern among foreign governments, rights groups and business people.
Law - Professor - Benny - Tai - Sociologist
Law professor Benny Tai, 54, and retired sociologist Chan Kin-man, 60, were each jailed for 16 months for conspiracy to commit public nuisance tied to the protests that paralyzed parts of the Asia financial center for 79 days in late 2014 and became known as the Umbrella Movement.
All three remained calm during the sentencing.
Decision - Court - Tai - Supporters - Sentencing
“Whatever will be the decision of the court I will just face it peacefully,” Tai told supporters ahead of his sentencing.
Retired pastor Chu Yiu-ming, 75, received a suspended sentence, as the judge took into account his age and public service.
Supporters - Bands - Umbrellas - West - Kowloon
Several hundred supporters, many wearing yellow bands and holding bright yellow umbrellas, had gathered outside the West Kowloon Law Courts. Once the sentences were announced, some sobbed, while others chanted: “I wasn’t incited by the Occupy leaders.”
The public nuisance trial is considered the most significant legal maneuver by authorities to punish those involved in the 2014 Occupy demonstrations, which pushed for genuine, full democracy in Hong Kong.
Demonstrations - Mass - Movement - Decades - Hub
The demonstrations were the largest and most protracted mass movement in recent decades in the global financial hub, and one of the boldest populist challenges to China’s leaders since the pro-democracy protests in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Organizers estimated that a million people had participated in the protests over nearly three months.
City - Rule - Critics - Beijing
Since the city returned to Chinese rule in 1997, critics say Beijing...
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