Thirteen activists who took part in a demonstration against the government’s funding request to develop the northeast New Territories were each sentenced to serve between 80 and 150 hours of community service at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The defendants included League of Social Democrats Vice-Chairman Raphael Wong Ho-ming, Land Justice League convenor Willis Ho and activist Billy Chiu. They were charged in relation to a protest in June 2014 outside the Legislative Council complex, during which they forced glass doors open with bamboo sticks and broke apart security barricades, the court heard earlier.

NENT protesters
The defendants outside the court. Photo: 全民反政治打壓運動 via Facebook.

In December, the court found them guilty of unlawful assembly, but acquitted them of forcible entry. City University student Leung Hiu-yeung was also charged and convicted of obstructing a Legislative Council officer.

Wong, who was not represented by a lawyer, said that he never regretted his actions, even if it meant going to jail, and said he would not submit a plea for a lighter sentence, Ming Pao reported. “[I’ll] fight till the end for justice and for the grassroots.”

Another defendant, Willis Ho, said that some people said it was foolish of the defendants to sit at the scene of the crime and await police arrest, but she believed that it was a responsible thing to do.

Raphael Wong Ho-ming.
Raphael Wong Ho-ming. File photo: Facebook/League of Social Democrats.

Magistrate Jason Wan said in his judgment the court understood that different people have different objectives for taking part in an assembly, and that some aim to speak for the underprivileged in society. He also said the court could see that the protesters were trying to fight for other’s rights and stop their homes from being destroyed before the implementation of the policy.

He also urged them to think of more intelligent methods to fight for justice.

Raphael Wong said that they had already tried every other method to express their views. He also said that he would appeal the conviction, but not the sentence. He will seek directions from the High Court to determine whether it was illegal for the Legislative Council Commission to allow the police to enter Legislative Council building that day.

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.