Hundreds of supporters gathered outside Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre on Wednesday evening to show solidarity with eight pro-democracy activists sentenced earlier that day for their involvement in the 2014 Umbrella Movement.
The candlelight event was attended by three of the convicted activists, two of whom received suspended sentences of two years and one received 200 hours of community. They were among a throng of pro-democracy political figures including Lee Cheuk-yan, Claudia Mo and “Long hair” Leung Kwok-hung. Throughout, volunteers read out old articles from the jailed activists and supporters chanted “Free all political prisoners,” raising lit candles in tribute.
New inmates arrive at the centre after they are sentenced into order to be processed and assigned a prison.
Nine pro-democracy activists were convicted of various public nuisance charges last month for their role in mass protests that paralysed the city for 79 days.
All pleaded not guilty and were handed jail terms ranging from eight to 16 months, aside from lawmaker Tanya Chan, who revealed in court that she had a brain tumour that required urgent surgery. Her sentencing has been postponed until June 10.
The commemorative gathering lasted from 7pm to 9pm, during which crowds of supporters spilt out onto a pedestrian crossing in the middle of two roads.
Many of them wore signature yellow t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “I was not incited,” a reference to the unusual “incitement to incite” public nuisance charges the defendants were found guilty of.
Local media reported that over 1,000 candles were handed out during the event.
“The event was not organised by any particular party, except for those who still support the Umbrella Movement activists,” said Jimmy Sham, a spokesperson for the Civil Human Rights Front.
Sham said that pens and papers were handed out so that attendees could write letters to those in prison.
HKFP_Live: Hong Kong democrats are holding a candlelit gathering at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre to honour Umbrella Movement activists sentenced today. https://t.co/ZX0uD0bsVn
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) April 24, 2019
Reverend Chu Yiu-ming said at the gathering that he saw it as his responsibility to speak up for the jailed activists and continue their mission.
Crowds also shouted out slogans of support for Yung Wai-ip, an activist jailed over the separate 2016 Mong Kok unrest.
Correction 14.45: An early version of this piece stated that t-shirts worn by activists bore the text “We did not incite.” In fact, they read “I was not incited.”
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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