The leaders of student activist groups Scholarism and Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) defended themselves on Thursday, after a court ruled that they had a case to answer for their involvement in the charging of the east wing forecourt of the Government Headquarters in 2014.

The hearing of the case continued at Eastern Magistrates’ Courts. The student activists – Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Alex Chow Yong-kang and Nathan Law Kwun-chung – were charged with inciting others to join, and taking part in unlawful assembly. They were accused over their roles during the charging of the Government Headquarters on September 26, 2014 following a week-long class boycott campaign, a prelude to the pro-democracy Occupy protests that started on September 28.

Joshua Wong Chi-fung. Photo: WikiCommons.

After hearing from the prosecution, the magistrate ruled that all three defendants would have a case to answer.

In defence, Wong said that he had planned to protest peacefully without the use of violence. He said that following an assembly that night, he only called on protesters to enter the east wing forecourt of the Government Headquarters – dubbed “Civic Square” by protesters – because he thought that staff members would open the gate for the demonstrators.

He said he had never thought of climbing fences to enter the area, adding that he only later did so because there were too many people at the gate.

First Umbrella – September 26, 2014 from Lianain Films on Vimeo.

Wong also cited the anti-National Education protests outside the Government Headquarters, arguing that police never arrested him at that time.

Protests against the unpopular Moral and National Education subject broke out in 2012 as demonstrators occupied the Civic Square for more than a week. They accused the government of using the subject as a political tool to build a sense of patriotism among local students. The subject was eventually scrapped following the demonstrations.

Students storming Civic Square.

Law also defended himself in court on Thursday afternoon. He said that HKFS had planned to break into Civic Square following the student protests, but said that they did so using non-violent means.

However, he added that the student group did not have plans to retreat when they were stopped by security officers.

Nathan Law Kwun-chung. Photo: Stand News.

Last Friday, the United States Congressional-Executive Commission on China released a statement, quoting a congressman as saying that the trials appeared to be “nothing more than political flexing, targeting those who dared to stand up for freedom of democracy.”

The Hong Kong government responded to the statement on Monday, saying that it was inappropriate for the commission to make open comments on cases that are the subject of legal proceedings.

Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).