Hong kong's Pro Democracy activists freed
Feb 06, 2018 World 3690 By Jason Ade
The highest court in Hong Kong on Tuesday freed, Joshua Wong, leader of the movement, Nathan Law and Alex Chow three young leaders of the city's pro-democracy movement, a decision that reverses of an earlier ruling.
The three young leaders of the city's pro-democracy movement, spent roughly two months in jail before they were granted bail in November. Their release follwed a ananimous decision was made by a panel of five judges on the Chinese-rule city's Court of Final Appeal, led by Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, who warned against future acts of dissent.
The activist were given a suspended sentence and community service for a charge of unlawfu gathering after they entered a fenced-off government area in frint of the government headquarters in 2014, which led to a stand-off with police. This resulted in a 79 days protest, later called the umbrella movement, calling for full democracy in the communist state.
Prosecutors of the Hong kongs justice department appealled the non- jail sentence, with the court of appeal imposing jail terms.
A non-permanent foreighn judge, among the panel said the sentences of imprisonment had been removed. They reiterated that, hong kong, apeaceful land law abiding civilization would not tolerate future offenders who participate in unlawful assemblies which involves violence will be subjected to tougher rules by the Court of Appeal.
But this non-jail sentence was challenged by Hong Kong's Department of Justice that pushed for a review, eventually leading the Court of Appeal to impose jail terms.
The five judges, including a non-permanent foreign judge, Lord Leonard Hoffmann, said in the judgment that they had "quashed the sentences of imprisonment" by the Court of Appeal.
The activists remained grim, saying there was no cause for celebration as future activists could face stern punishment for defending their rights and freedom. "It's not a time for celebration ... It's a long term battle for us in the future," said Joshua Wong.
"Maybe more and more activists will be locked up because of this harsh judgment . We must urge people to continue to fight for democracy."
The judges said: "There is no constitutional justification for violent unlawful behavior. In such a case involving violence, a deterrent sentence may be called for and will not be objectionable on the ground that it creates a ‘chilling effect' on the exercise of a constitutional right."