Activists marched to Hong Kong’s High Court on Sunday to protest a magistrate’s decision to convict a female demonstrator of assaulting a police officer with her breast.

The demonstration was organised by localist group Hong Kong Indigenous after four people – nicknamed the “Yuen Long Four” – were convicted in Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Court of assaulting or obstructing an officer during an anti-parallel trading protest in Yuen Long.

hong kong indigenous civic passion
Photo: Vicky Wong

Around 200 demonstrators arrived at the High Court holding placards stating “Breast is NOT a weapon!” and “The rule of law is dead” in front of police. The group chanted slogans such as “down with the Communist Party!”

At the end of the rally, Edward Leung, a spokesperson for Hong Kong Indigenous, thanked the crowd for joining the protest and invited everyone to join them outside Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday July 29, the day the Yuen Long Four will return for sentencing.

Leung told HKFP: “We are trying to support those protesters arrested by the police.”

“They are trying to protect our land, because they are trying to reclaim the community that they deserve to live in … so they deserve our support, they are trying to fight for a better Hong Kong.”

He then went on to raise concerns about the independence of the city’s judiciary and government interference with Hong Kong’s legal system, citing a white paper issued by the central government in June last year saying all judges should be patriotic.

“We think that in Hong Kong, the legal system in Hong Kong, is trying to cooperate with the executive system, that’s it. We have to stop this phenomenon, we have to stop this kind of Communist party rule.”

Leung told HKFP that Hong Kong Indigenous have not decided whether they would hold another protest if the Yuen Long Four are handed a strict sentence.

The Yuen Long Four – consisting of three men and one woman – were arrested during an anti-parallel trading protest in March. 

The woman, 30-year-old Ng Lai-ying, was found guilty of using her chest to knock into the right arm of Chief Inspector Chan Ka-po, who was attempting to control the protest as it started to get rowdy. The ruling made international news.

Ng told the court that she shouted “indecent assault” after Chan reached out his arm to reach the strap of her bag causing his hand to touch the upper part of her left breast.

Two other men, 20-year-old Kwong Chung-hung and 22-year-old Poon Tsz-hang, were found guilty of obstructing police officers and a 14-year-old pupil was found guilty of hitting Ka-po in the chest with his shoulder. All four defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Local media reported that Michael Chan Pik-kiu, the magistrate presiding over the case, dismissed Ng’s allegations saying they had caused great harm to the officer’s reputation.

Update 17:30: A spokesperson from the Department of Justice told HKFP the allegations made by Edward Leung over Hong Kong’s judicial independence were “unjustified” and “without foundation”, adding that “the rule of law, including independent judiciary, is well and alive in the Hong Kong SAR.”

He went on to say that Hong Kong’s mini constitution the Basic Law “provides solid guarantee for judicial independence” free from any political interference and that the white paper cited by Leung does not make it a requirement for judges to take into account “any political or other inappropriate considerations in adjudicating cases.”

Vicky Wong

Vicky Wong

Vicky is a British-born Chinese journalist with three years of experience covering UK politics. She previously worked for PoliticsHome and has interned at Sky News and CNN International. She also co-produced and filmed a documentary about the Hong Kong protests for MSNBC, which won the grand student prize at the 2015 Human Rights Press Awards. She has a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading and moved to Hong Kong in 2014 to complete a journalism masters at the University of Hong Kong.