Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan has been given a jail sentence of eight months, suspended for two years, over her involvement in the Umbrella Movement protests.

Chan was charged with public nuisance offences, but her sentencing was postponed after her legal team revealed to a judge in April that she required medical treatment for a brain tumour.

Tanya Chan and Audrey Eu of the Civic Party. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The 2014 Umbrella Movement was the biggest pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong’s history, which was sparked by public discontent with Beijing’s proposal for electing the city’s leader. Thousands called for “true universal suffrage” as they blocked roads in Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay from September to December of 2014.

Radiotherapy treatment 

Chan’s lawyer Wong Ching-yu said her brain tumour was a benign one, but it had not been completely removed as it was close to her brain stem. Wong said Chan will have to receive radiotherapy over the course of 30 days and – without it – the tumour will remain and grow. He said the treatment could take place at public hospitals such as Queen Mary Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the presence of a neurosurgeon.

Wong requested a suspended sentence owing to Chan’s condition, which may cause double vision for at least six months. He cited Chan’s public service record since 2006, and said she has had recent trouble balancing and the radiotherapy will cause dizziness, and she will have to be taken care by someone else.

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However, prosecutor David Leung said persons in custody are provided with medical care according to the Correctional Services Department’s guidelines, including services at public hospitals.

Judge Johnny Chan said his starting point of the sentence was nine months. He deducted one month from the sentence, saying that he accepted Tanya Chan had good personal character.

He added that he would have sentenced her to eight months, but – considering her medical condition and the effects of radiotherapy – he said it was justified that a suspended sentence be handed down. Thus, he said the sentence would be suspended for two years.

Tanya Chan. Photo: StandNews.

Man-kei Tam of Amnesty International Hong Kong hit out over the sentencing in a press release on Monday: “All of the convictions against the Umbrella Nine should be quashed, and the four activists currently in jail must be immediately and unconditionally released… This is the latest dark chapter in the curtailing of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong. The government must stop abusing the law and the judicial system to criminalize peaceful protesters and silence debate on democracy and other views Beijing deems problematic in Hong Kong.”

Nine leading organisers, including Chan, were charged in March 2017 with various counts of conspiracy to commit public nuisance, incitement to commit public nuisance and incitement to incite public nuisance.

More to follow.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.