In the largest rioting case relating to the 2019 protests and unrest, 21 people have been sentenced to between 30 months and 42 months in jail for rioting during a protest in Sheung Wan in 2019.

The protest on July 28, 2019 in Sheung Wan. File Photo: May James/HKFP.

A total of 25 defendants were charged with rioting and related offences in connection with clashes between protesters and police on July 28, 2019. The protest took place a week after more than 100 rod-wielding men stormed Yuen Long MTR station on July 21, leaving 45 people injured – including journalists, protesters, commuters and pro-democracy lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting.

Protests erupted in June 2019 over a since-axed extradition bill. They escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid calls for democracy and anger over Beijing’s encroachment.

21 of 25 found guilty

District Court judge Johnny Chan handed down sentences ranging from two and a half years to nearly four years on Saturday to 20 people found guilty during a trial in November and one who pled guilty earlier, Ming Pao reported. Aged between 19 and 40, the defendants, seven of whom were students, were accused of rioting between Western Street and Des Voeux Road West.

File Photo: May James/HKFP.

Sentencing details – click to view.

DefendantAgeSentence (months)
A1: CHEUNG CHI LUN2142
A2: CHAN TSZ HONG2842
A3: JUNG WANG YEUNG2042
A4: TSUI HING KWAN2037
A5: CHAN HEI CHUN2442
A6: TSUI YIU MING2442
A7: LAM SIU FUNG2442
A8: CHOY CHAK SUN4037
A9: YEUNG CHI SING2037
A10: LAM SING YU1937
A11: WONG CHUNG YAN2242
A12: WONG KAM SHAN2037
A13: LEE SIU HONG2142
A14: CHOW KAM TO1840
A15: MOK CHEUK FAI3338
A16: WONG FEI HUNG1942
A17: KAN ANDY2430
A19: TAM SZE MIU2342
A22: TAM YEE TING2542
A23: LUK YING WAI2737
A24: WONG PAK YIN2142

Chan said protesters’ gear and equipment demonstrated that they had come prepared, and so a riot was not unexpected. Video footage taken by the press showed the number of protesters far exceeded those of the police, with some throwing sticks, metal rods and umbrellas at officers, InMedia reported Chan as saying.

Responding to the mitigation plea of defendant Andy Kan, who submitted that the July 28 protest was in response to the Yuen Long attack, Chan said using a riot to respond to another riot “would not solve any problems,” InMedia reported. People should not resort to violence or any means possible in order to fulfil what they believed were their ideals, Chan said, adding that Kan had tried to legitimise rioting but his beliefs did not constitute a reason to mitigate his sentence.

File Photo: May James/HKFP.

During his mitigation in December, Kan, who did not have a legal counsel, quoted American civil rights activist Martin Luther King, saying that “a riot is the language of the unheard,” as he admitted to rioting without remorse. “When riots happened in a city, those who should feel ashamed were not its citizens, but its government,” he was reported as saying at the time.

Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit, Hong Kong Free Press is #PressingOn with impartial, award-winning, frontline coverage.

Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.