A Hong Kong judge has jailed four people for unlawful assembly or possessing offensive weapons in the vicinity of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) siege in 2019, saying they had blindly worshipped the young protesters in an “almost paedophile-like” fashion.

District Court. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Chan Chung-yee, 70, Tam Ho-ming, 22, Mok Tak-wai, 38 and Tang Cheuk-yu, 26, appeared for sentencing before District Judge Ernest Lin on Wednesday.

Chan, Tam and Mok had previously been found guilty of unlawful assembly, while Tang was convicted of possessing an offensive weapon in Tsim Sha Tsui on November 18, 2019. Pro-democracy protesters had gathered in areas near PolyU on that day to show support for those occupying the campus, with some engaged in violent clashes with riot police.

Lo Kin-hei, the chairperson of the Democratic Party, the city’s largest remaining opposition party, was a co-defendant with the four. He was cleared of unlawful assembly but is facing a government appeal against his acquittal.

Violent social movements

Lin said a series of social movements was becoming increasingly violent around that time in 2019. He said protesters were encouraged by “external forces with ulterior motives” to believe that they could achieve their aims through violence.

Although Lin said there was no evidence that the defendants had engaged in detailed planning, they had acted with a common purpose and the unlawful assembly occurred in a tourist spot surrounded by office complexes, thus obstructing people’s normal business. Therefore, the judge said he should focus on “punishment and deterrence” when sentencing.

Protesters outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in November 2019. File photo: Jimmy Lam/United Social Press.

The judge said while he had heard that the four hoped to help the young people at the protest scene, it was not a reason for them to break the law.

Lin said young people’s reluctance to blindly accept common values was “the driving force in the progression of a civilised society,” but they often cannot control their own impulses.

“Those who blindly worship young people or the youth, are not only projecting their emotions, but are also acting almost like paedophiles. It will further amplify the impulses of the young and their so-called ‘help’ will only be more of a hindrance, resulting in further damage to society,” Lin said, according to local media.

He sentenced Chan, Tam and Mok to 24 months in prison and jailed Tang for 15 months.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.