One of the co-founders of the 2014 Occupy protests has criticised the appeal court, saying it failed to recognise the importance of civil disobedience after it jailed three young activists – Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Alex Chow – on Thursday.

Benny Tai is currently facing public nuisance charges over his leadership role in the demonstrations. He has said he will plead guilty if the charges against him are factually accurate.

Following the ruling, Tai posted on Facebook saying: “The appeal court judge on one hand says that there is an unhealthy trend in Hong Kong, with some [arrogantly] promoting ‘disobeying the law to achieve justice,’ but on the other hand says  Hong Kong is a civilised society.”

Benny Tai. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

“They completely fail to see that a society needs just that which they called an ‘unhealthy trend’ in order to have true civilisation,” he continued.

In translation: The Occupy sentence review – why Hong Kong’s appeal court jailed Joshua Wong, Nathan Law & Alex Chow

Tai cited Lord Hoffman, a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal, who said in 2006 in a case that civil disobedience has a long and honourable history. “It is a mark of civilisation to have those who sincerely break the law, so as to challenge the law or acts of injustice by the government. The court, in handing down the sentence, must consider the sincere motives of participants of civil disobedience. This is completely opposite to the negative tone the appeal court adopts towards civil disobedience…”

“No law is perfect, and no judgment is perfect… if the current legal methods do not effectively provide redress for the injustice in the law, then civil disobedience becomes necessary,” he added. “Because if there is injustice and it is not dealt with in time, there will not be progress and improvement in society – only regression. Unfortunately, this is the direction Hong Kong is headed towards.”

“Judges have the power to send those who take part in civil disobedience to jail, not because they are better, greater or wiser than others, but because they wear the robe and sit on that chair. Judges and civil disobedience participants are equal before justice.”

Protests planned

The League of Social Democrats is organising a rally outside the Lai Chi Kok Detention Centre on 7pm, Friday.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

They are also organising a march on Sunday 3pm that will start from Luard Road next to Southorn Playground.

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.