By Vivienne Chow in SCMP - An exhibition of iconic objects collected from the sites of last year's Occupy protests will open on Saturday, two days before the first anniversary of the start of the pro-democracy movement. Hereafter: Objects from the Umbrella Movement will showcase 60 objects out of a total of 380 pieces collected from protest sites in Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok. The organisers, Umbrella Movement Visual Archive, said they retrieved the objects before police began clearance operations in December to end the 79-day sit-ins. Sampson Wong Yu-hin, one of the organisers, said the passion and creative energy of the protests were unprecedented, and the objects served as a snapshot of the movement.
By Wen Yuqing and Xin Lin in Radio Free Asia - The face of last year's pro-democracy Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong, Joshua Wong, hit out on Thursday after being charged by police for his role in the mass protests for universal suffrage in the former British colony. Wong, 18, who could face a jail term of up to five years, slammed the charges of "illegal assembly" and "inciting others to take part in an illegal assembly" as politically motivated. The charges relate to a protest on Sept. 26 during which some Umbrella Movement protesters climbed into Civic Square, part of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government complex. Writing on his Facebook page, Wong said that the freedom of association, among a number of traditional freedoms that Beijing promised to uphold after the 1997 handover to Chinese rule, has been severely limited in the city in recent years.
By Tony Cheung and Joyce Ng in SCMP - Student leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung and three other activists are set to be charged with obstructing police officers during a protest outside the central government's liaison office last summer. They say the move by police, more than a year after the protest took place, appears like a political prosecution. In a WhatsApp message to the media yesterday, Wong, convenor of student group Scholarism, said he was at the airport checking in for a morning flight to Japan to go on holiday when he received a telephone call from Western District crime squad. He was told to report to police by Thursday, when he would be charged. He was accused of obstructing officers in carrying out their duty at a protest outside the liaison office in Western on June 11 last year.
By Chris Lau in SCMP - An Occupy activist who previously told a court that he would not forgive himself if he moved was fined HK$3,000 in Eastern Court today for refusing to leave a road divider during a clearance operation in Admiralty last year. Handing down the fine on taxi driver Yeung Tak-wah, magistrate Lee Siu-ho said: “I understand that your motive stemmed from some thoughts and a strong belief you had over some matters.” At the time of the offence, Yeung was protesting against the city’s restrictive political reform framework handed down by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on August 31 last year. “But at the same time, you have to consider the rights and freedoms of others,” Lee added. Yeung, 55, who represented himself in court, pleaded not guilty earlier to one count of obstructing a police officer.
It has been 200 days since tens of thousands of Hong Kongers flooded the city’s streets demanding the right to freely elect their own leader, and 126 days since the police unceremoniously cleared the tent-filled villages after almost three months of occupation. The movement for democracy has largely been relegated to online forums and abstract discussions, but that isn’t the only place it resides. The handful of tents that remained in front of the Central Government Offices even after the Dec. 16 clearance has steadily grown over the past three months. Currently, 146 fabric shelters line the sidewalks of Tim Mei Avenue, where the use of pepper spray and arrest of student protesters on Sept. 27 was the spark that set the movement ablaze.
The original founders of Hong Kong's pro-democracy Occupy movement were arrested and released Saturday as the city's police chief defended the investigation into mass protests, saying it was not "a show". A number of protest leaders have been arrested and released without charge, with some calling the investigation harassment. Occupy founder Benny Tai said that he, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming had been formally arrested on accusations of organising and participating in an illegal assembly, but were not charged. They were released after three hours. "Three of us were showed some videos and articles... we were released unconditionally," he said.
Hong Kong’s government canceled the chief executive’s town hall meetings for the first time over concerns about potential public unrest spurred by pro-democracy protests that ended last month. Leung Chun-ying’s meet-the-people sessions were called off due to the situation and atmosphere in the city when they were scheduled, a spokesman for Leung’s office, who asked that his name not be used per office policy, said by phone. The meetings have been held at least three times annually over the previous five years to gauge public opinion ahead of the annual policy address and budget release.
More than 30 key figures of civil disobedience face prosecution after police initiated their first post-Occupy Central arrests yesterday over the mass sit-ins for democracy. At least four pan-democratic party leaders-cum-lawmakers are on a list of people the police force is inviting to help with the investigations. The Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit, Labour Party's Lee Cheuk-yan and League of Social Democrats' Leung Kwok-hung were among those requested to visit police headquarters in Wan Chai, according to a police source. Once there, the source said, they would be arrested for instigating, organising or aiding and abetting an unlawful assembly over the 79-day protests.
Hong Kong police say they arrested 12 protesters who were blocking several roads in the Mong Kok neighborhood overnight on Wednesday as pro-democracy demonstrators returned to the site hundreds had occupied for more than two months. Police said in a statement on Thursday that they had used pepper spray and batons to break up the protest and arrested demonstrators on charges ranging from assaulting a police officer to failing to produce proof of identity. The statement said two police officers were injured in the operation. Thousands of protesters had occupied three busy neighborhoods to demand that residents of the semi-autonomous city be allowed to elect their top executive in 2017 from an open list of candidates. Chinese officials are requiring that a committee believed friendly to Beijing select the candidates.
Students and civic groups are launching a "non-cooperation movement" - urging people to delay paying their public-housing rent and to pay tax bills in small and symbolic amounts - as an offshoot of the Occupy prodemocracy protests. Alex Chow Yong-kang, secretary general of the Federation of Students, said yesterday the actions were legal and busy workers unable to join previous protests could take part. "Occupy is taking on different forms. While the government has no timetable for universal suffrage, we do have a timetable to fight for it and challenge the legitimacy of the government," Chow said.
They were not the words of a local student or activist, but of a visitor from Shanghai. As we talked by my tent in the encampment, we reflected that Hong Kong activists were fighting to exercise the simple right that Americans across the Pacific would be using at the ballot box the very next day, in national elections on Nov. 4. More than 60 people now sit in prison in China for expressing various degrees of support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. Yet, more come here every day for a taste of what one man from Beijing described to me as "the first ever genuine movement for freedom on Chinese soil.” Although this could not have been said as easily across the border, it's an increasingly common sentiment these days in Hong Kong, where local, mainland and even Taiwanese activists continue forging new connections around the makeshift supply stations and study centers of the occupation.
Traffic may have returned to the Mong Kok protest zone, but last week's clearance of the encampment has given rise to a new form of protest known as the "shopping tour", with activists taking to the crowded footpaths to convey their political message. Participants say it is more fun and a pleasant change from camping on the tarmac, plus it is proving even more effective as a strain on police manpower. Every night since last Friday, dozens of protesters have gathered outside a cinema on Sai Yeung Choi Street South. They watch movie trailers while chanting spontaneous slogans inspired by images on the screen. Then they roam the footpaths, obstructing commerce while evading police.
Three founders of the pro-democracy protest group Occupy Central with Love and Peace called on students to end their occupation of city streets, but student leaders vowed to press on. The middle-aged leaders of the Occupy movement raised the idea of using civil disobedience in the former British colony to push for greater democracy last year, but student protest groups have been at the forefront of the two-month-long street demonstrations—and student leaders on Tuesday quickly rejected the idea of abandoning their encampments. In an emotional plea Tuesday, the Occupy leaders said they feared the clashes between protesters and police were escalating at a dangerous pace and urged the students to stand down.
Students fought running battles with police outside government headquarters on Sunday night as Occupy protesters tried to storm the Admiralty compound and lay siege to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's office. Minutes after student leaders called on the thousands gathered at the Admiralty Occupy encampment, hundreds of protesters - wearing an assortment of hard hats and protective masks - thronged around government headquarters and Tamar Park and began trying to breach police lines at various points. Police used pepper spray and baton charges to repel them, leaving some bloodied and requiring treatment by makeshift medics. Key areas of violence were Lung Wo Road and the walkways from Harcourt Road to government headquarters.