A court has adjourned a decision on whether to approve the application by four protesters to permanently suspend legal proceedings to November 11. The four stand accused of obstruction during a protest where they burnt replicas of Beijing’s white paper on Hong Kong political reform.

Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong, ex-secretary general of Hong Kong Federation of Students Nathan Law, League of Social Democrats vice-chairman Raphael Wong and People Power lawmaker Albert Chan appeared before Magistrate Chu Chung-keung on charges of obstructing a police officer at Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Monday. The four protesters had marched to the China Liaison Office and burnt copies of the State Council white paper on One Country, Two Systems last June, although they were not charged until a year later.

The protesters first appeared in court in August for the pre-trial review. They applied for a permanent stay of proceedings, which, if approved, would mean that the four would not face trial.

joshua wong and white paper
Photo: 蕭雲 via Facebook.

The counsel for the defence asked the prosecution to explain why the decision to charge the protesters took 13 months, while the prosecution argued that doing so would go against the rules of legal professional privilege.

Outside court, Raphael Wong also said that the prosecution took place only after the pro-democracy Occupy protests ended and the reform bill was voted down. He said that the delay affected their ability to collect evidence for their case.

Leung Kwok-hung “Long Hair” of the League of Social Democrats, along with supporters, gathered outside the law courts building, chanting slogans and holding up a banner that read: “Burning white paper not an offence, fighting for universal suffrage without fear”.

white paper protesters
The protesters and their supporters, including Leung Kwok-hung. Photo: 全民反政治打壓運動 via Facebook.

On Sunday, Joshua Wong posted on Facebook saying, “I have to be at Eastern Magistrates’ Court tomorrow at 9am… I still haven’t been able to attend class yet since returning to Hong Kong.” Wong had previously been touring the United Kingdom, giving speeches at universities. During his trip, which coincided with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit, Wong criticised UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s government for turning a blind eye to China’s human rights abuse record in favour of favourable trade relations.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.