Free speech and assembly rights in Hong Kong must be “fully respected”, Britain said on Thursday, a day after leaders of the city’s democracy movement were jailed for organising mass protests in 2014.

Theresa May. File photo: 10 Downing Street.

“It would be deeply concerning if the outcome for these individuals were to deter the people of Hong Kong from participating in peaceful protest in the future,” a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said.

“Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are both guaranteed by the Sino-British Joint Declaration and it is important that these… are fully respected.”

The 2014 Umbrella Movement protests, which called for free elections to appoint Hong Kong’s leader, paralysed the city for months and infuriated Beijing.

Four prominent leaders of the movement were jailed on Wednesday for their role.

Tommy Cheung (far-left), Lee Wing-tat (left), Reverend Chu Yiu-ming (centre), Lee Cheuk-yan (right). Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

Hong Kong enjoys rights unseen in mainland China, including freedom of speech and the press, which are enshrined in the 1997 Sino-British Joint Declaration when Britain handed the territory back to China.

Kong Tsung-gan‘s new collection of essays – narrative, journalistic, documentary, analytical, polemical, and philosophical – trace the fast-paced, often bewildering developments in Hong Kong since the 2014 Umbrella Movement. As Long As There Is Resistance, There Is Hope is available exclusively through HKFP with a min. HK$200 donation. Thanks to the kindness of the author, 100 per cent of your payment will go to HKFP’s critical 2019 #PressForFreedom Funding Drive.

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