Social welfare sector lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun has accused the government of political cleansing, amid a crackdown on the leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
At least nine pro-democracy figures – including Shiu – were informed by police on Monday that they were to be charged with public nuisance. The news came a day after Carrie Lam was elected as the city’s leader and pledged “social unity.”
“The prosecution sent a ridiculous but clear message: the government wants political cleansing,” Shiu said, “whilst [Lam] proposed reconciliation with people across the political spectrum.”
He said the government had already taken four pro-democracy lawmakers to court in an attempt to disqualify them from the legislature. He questioned the incoming government’s ability to improve its relationships with lawmakers.
‘Kiss of death’
Another politician targeted was lawmaker Tanya Chan. She said the decision to press charges against the Occupy leaders showed that incumbent leader Leung Chun-ying enjoyed targeting opponents and seeing a divided society.
“Yesterday Carrie Lam pledged social unity, and today CY Leung spoiled her campaign by prosecuting the opposition camp,” Chan said. “How is the new government going to deal with the situation in the next five years?”
She added that Leung gave “two kisses of death” to Lam just one day after she became elected, by praising her and by prosecuting Occupy leaders.
“The division in society is already quite a serious issue. Now, with this premeditated prosecution, it is going to make governance of the next administration very difficult.”
Among those targeted were the three founders of the Occupy movement. One of the founders, sociology professor Chan Kin-man, said it was obvious that police waited until the leadership race ended to make the prosecution.
He added that the government sent the message that it desired – creating rather than healing social divisions.
Carrie Lam said Monday that she had no knowledge of the prosecution decisions, emphasising the independence enjoyed by the prosecutors.
“I made it very clear that I want to unite society and mend divisions. But it should not compromise the rule of law in Hong Kong,” Lam said.
In response, Tanya Chan, also a barrister, said the Department of Justice was part of the government and that Leung Chun-ying must have been involved in the decision to prosecute the Occupy leaders.
Chan said some of those targeted are facing the common law charge of public nuisance. Offenders face a maximum penalty of seven years behind bars.
She added that a trial will be held at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, though the time has not been decided.
Some of the leaders facing charges will report to the Wan Chai Police Headquarters together at 7:30pm on Monday. They have appealed to supporters to turn up in protest.
The nine leaders targeted are:
- Occupy founders Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming.
- Lawmakers Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun.
- Former student leaders Tommy Cheung Sau-yin and Eason Chung Yiu-wah.
- Raphael Wong Ho-ming, vice chairman of the League of Social Democrats.
- Former lawmaker of the Democratic Party Lee Wing-tat.