Hong Kong convicts student leaders of illegal assembly

Student leaders of pro-democracy protests in 2014 were found guilty of illegal assembly by a Hong Kong court on Thursday, as Amnesty International said the decision sent a "chilling warning for freedom of expression."

Joshua Wong and Alex Chow were convicted for climbing into a fenced-off area in front of the government headquarters in September 2014, Radio Television Hong Kong said.

Student Nathan Law was found guilty of inciting people to join the protest.

The students could face up to five years' imprisonment.

"I don't regret my commitment to the Umbrella Movement," Wong told dpa.

"This conviction will be more pressure, but it doesn't mean I'll step [back] from my responsibility [of fighting for democracy]"

Wong and Law are now part of a newly formed political party, Demosisto, which is planning to field candidates in September's legislative council elections.

Amnesty said the convictions "send a chilling warning for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the city."

"The prosecution of student leaders on vague charges smacks of political payback by the authorities," said Mabel Au, head of Amnesty in Hong Kong.

Amnesty noted that Hong Kong's Public Order Ordinance, on which the prosecutions were based, had been criticized by the UN Human Rights Committee for "failing to fully meet international human rights law and standards on the right of peaceful assembly."

"The authorities must stop using vague laws in an attempt to intimidate people from exercising their right to peaceful assembly," Au said.

Last update: Thu, 21/07/2016 - 12:21

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