Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters appeared in court today after being charged with rioting, setting the stage for further unrest in a weeks-long crisis that has rocked the global financial hub.
The announcement last night that 44 people had been charged with rioting – an offence that carries a jail term of up to 10 years – immediately triggered another round of clashes between police and protesters.
Supporters continued to voice their outrage this morning as they stood outside court, braving heavy winds and rain, before the proceedings started.
‘Release the righteous… no rioters, only tyranny… reclaim Hong Kong, the revolution of our times,’ they chanted.
A women (central) leaves the Eastern District Court after facing a riot charge. The accused included a teacher, a nurse, an airline pilot, a barber, a chef, an electrician, a construction worker and unemployed people, according to their charge sheets
Demonstrators chant slogans as they gather outside the Eastern Court in Hong Kong. The city’s police said last yesterday that 44 people, aged between 16 and 41, had been charged with rioting and one other with possessing offensive weapons
A protester holds a placard that reads: ‘No rioters, only tyranny’ while chanting slogans as they gather outside the Eastern Court in Hong Kong. The vast majority of the accused individuals showed up in court this morning and were granted bail
A women (central) arrives at the Eastern District Court to face a riot charge from recent clashes between protesters and police. The announcement of their charges sparked another night of unrest on the streets of the former British Colony
A man (central) leaves the Eastern District Court after facing a riot charge from recent clashes between protesters and police. 43 of the defendants were said to have appeared in court and an arrest warrant had been issue for a 44th who didn’t show up
A protester holds a placard that reads ‘Release the righteous, investigate corrupt police’. The defendants were accused of setting up roadblocks, breaking fences, damaging street signs and attacking police officers with bricks and iron rods
A demonstrator (right) shouts slogans to show her anger. The accused activists were detained after clashes broke out between demonstrators and police at an unauthorised protest in the western part of Hong Kong island on Sunday
One of the supporters holds a Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom while standing outside court. The accused activists were detained when police repeatedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets to drive back protesters on Sunday
Supporters of those charged with rioting voiced their outrage as they stood outside court, braving heavy winds and rain
Police said yesterday that 44 people had been charged with rioting and one other with possessing offensive weapons. The accused set up roadblocks, broke fences, damaged street signs and attacked police officers with bricks and iron rods, law enforcement said in a statement.
Forty-three protesters, including 28 men and 16 women aged between 16 and 41, appeared at Eastern Court in front of a packed galley today, according to South China Morning Post.
The protesters were generally calm as they took turns to appear in front of the judge, who formally read the charges and granted bail.
The range of their professions reflected the wide support across Hong Kong society for the pro-democracy movement.
They included a teacher, a nurse, an airline pilot, a barber, a chef, an electrician, a construction worker and unemployed people, according to their charge sheets.
All were released on bail with a vast majority given a midnight curfew.
Supporters of anti-extradition protesters react to a police vehicle outside the Eastern Court. ‘The Chinese government just wants to scare people not to go out and protest again,’ a supporter named Syrus, 19, told Reuters outside court today
Even with a typhoon approaching the city and rain lashing down, many supporters, huddled beneath umbrellas, stayed on to show solidarity. ‘I’m not scared to protest. This whole thing today is just making me more angry,’ another supporter said
The use of the anti-riot law could infuriate activists who have been demanding that the government avoid using the term ‘riot’ to refer to the demonstrations. Under Hong Kong law, rioting is defined as an unlawful assembly of three or more people where any person ‘commits a breach of the peace’, and a conviction can carry a 10-year prison sentence
Most of the defendants were released on bail of HK$1,000 (US$128). The court also imposed a curfew from midnight to 6 am on most of them, and many were ordered to remain in Hong Kong. The picture above shows their supporters outside court
Protesters have demanded the extradition bill be scrapped, the resignation of city leader Carrie Lam, an independent inquiry into the police’s handling of the crisis and the unconditional release of all those arrested
Since mid-June the protests have escalated and become more frequent, at times shutting government offices, blocking roads and disrupting business as some of the demonstrations degenerated into violent clashes between activists and police
The large demonstrations in Hong Kong started last month as a movement against now-suspended extradition legislation, and have since grown to encompass broader demands around greater democracy and government accountability
The protests have been propelled by an underlying distrust for the ruling Communist Party on the mainland, where speech is tightly controlled and dissenters are routinely jailed. Protesters have also demanded the city’s leader Carrie Lam step down
Standing in a heavy rain, supporters rally outside court. Hong Kong today raised a tropical cyclone signal 8, its third highest level, as schools and financial markets closed and office workers left work early to get home before the storm
Police have been deploying an increasing range of crowd control measures, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, shotgun beanbag rounds and sponge grenades fired from barrel-mounted grenade launchers
A woman holds a sign denouncing police violence as she and other supporters of anti-extradition protesters stand outside the Eastern Court in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s government has the extradition bill which sparked the ongoing unrest ‘dead’
Hong Kong government first launched the proposals in February, putting forward sweeping changes that would simplify case-by-case extraditions of criminal suspects to countries beyond the 20 with which Hong Kong has existing extradition treaties
Hong Kong lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki (centre right) told reporters that the prosecution of protesters and use of police force will only make the situation worse. Speaking outside court, he blamed Beijing-appointed Chief Executive Carrie Lam
They have to hand over their travel documents and are not allowed to go out in the hours from midnight to 6 a.m. Their sentencing is scheduled for September 25.
The curfew exemptions were given to two individuals, a night-shift worker at a children’s home and a pilot.
The magistrate has issued an arrest warrant for a 44th protester charged with rioting who did not appear in court today, South China Morning Post said. The individual has been named 22-year-old Yan Hoi-ying who is a clerk.
The 45th defendants, a 24-year-old student, who was charged with possessing offensive weapons has also been granted bail.
Hundreds of supporters of the defendants braved heavy rain and strong winds outside court for nearly five hours to demand their release and condemn the pro-Beijing government’s handling of the on-going protests.
It explicitly allows extraditions from Hong Kong to greater China for the first time, closing what Hong Kong officials have repeatedly described as a ‘loophole’ that they claim has allowed the city to become a haven for criminals from the mainland
A long-forgotten issue, the need for an eventual extradition deal with the mainland was acknowledged by government officials and experts ahead of Hong Kong’s handover from British to China in 1997 under the ‘one country, two systems’ model
One supporter holds a sign that reads: ‘Our Hong Kong saved by ourselves.’ The city maintains a separate and independent legal system as part of the broader freedoms the formula guarantees. Little progress has been made in discreet talks since then with justice and security officials on the mainland, where the Communist Party still controls the courts
A protester reacts emotionally as she and others gather outside the Eastern Court. Concern about the law amendments has spiraled in the past eight weeks, taking in pro-Beijing elements usually loath to publicly contradict the Chinese governments
Hong Hong Legislative members and pro-democracy activist Kwok Ka-ki condemned the city’s authorities to reporters as he stood among the supporters: ‘[What] we witness today is that SAR government [is] using strong criminal offences to prosecute 44 young people. The origin of the conflict is not the young people.’
He continued: ‘But Carrie Lam and her administration and the Hong Kong police, they are using an unreasonable force, using tear gas, rubber bullets and all sorts of violent equipment to hit the young people.’
Mr Kwok added that the government’s method would not ‘heal’ Hong Kong.
Amnesty International has also challenged the Hong Kong authorities’ charges against the protesters, calling the act ‘a chilling warning’.
Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said: ‘By using such vague charges against pro-democracy protesters, the Hong Kong authorities seem intent on sending a chilling warning to anyone considering taking part in future protests.
‘While there was violence over the weekend, the definitions of illegal assembly and rioting under Hong Kong law are so broad they fall far short of international standards. It is highly questionable that individuals facing these sweeping charges would have a fair chance of defending themselves at trial.’
He added: ‘Many people in Hong Kong will today be questioning why charges have been swiftly brought against pro-democracy protesters, yet no-one involved in the vicious beatings at Yuen Leung station more than a week ago has so far been charged.
A group of club-wielding mobsters, mostly wearing white T-shirts, broke into a subway station late at night on July 21 to beat up passengers, including a pregnant woman. Many of the victims were wearing black T-shirts and on their way home from an earlier demonstration.
At least six of the attackers have been arrested by police and some were found to have links to triads.
Schools, lawyers and church groups in Hong Kong have joined human rights groups to protest against the measures
Pro-democracy protesters have continued rallies on the streets of Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill since 9 June as the city plunged into crisis after waves of demonstrations and several violent clashes
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has apologised for introducing the bill and declared it ‘dead’. However, protesters have continued to draw large crowds with demands for Lam’s resignation and completely withdraw the bill
Semi-autonomous Hong Kong has endured more than seven weeks of unrest that began with a government bid to introduce a law that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
The protests evolved into a movement for deeper democratic reforms and an end to eroding freedoms, in the most significant challenge to Beijing’s rule since the city’s handover from Britain in 1997.
In the latest confrontation, police used pepper spray and batons against hundreds of protesters who had gathered outside a police station in solidarity with those who had just been charged.
Footage broadcast live on television showed an officer aiming a shotgun at protesters who were throwing objects at him.
The previous two weekends had seen a surge in the level of violence used by both protesters and police, who repeatedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse projectile-throwing crowds.
A mob of pro-government thugs also attacked protesters, putting 45 people in hospital.
Police came out to disperse the crowd at about 10:40pm, with one of the officers filmed pointing a gun at protesters while his colleague is seen attacking them with a baton
Dozens of Hong Kong protesters detained during recent clashes have been charged with rioting – an offence that carries a jail term of up to ten years – as the finance hub’s embattled pro-Beijing leaders crack down on weeks of demonstrations. After the announcement, protesters gathered outside the Kwai Chung police station in support of those detained on Tuesday night
Police officers react during clashes with protesters who surrounded a police station where detained protesters are being held
A police officer points a gun towards protesters. Several hundred protesters mobilised in the streets outside a police station after Hong Kong media said that 44 people had been arrested on riot charges
Police late Tuesday said 44 of those arrested were being charged with rioting and would appear in court on Wednesday morning. Another man was charged with possession of an offensive weapon
The latest round of clashes between anti-government protesters and police broke out tonight after dozens of demonstrators detained were charged with rioting, an offence that carries a jail term of up to ten years
The 44 protesters were charged for their alleged role in running battles between police and protesters in a well-heeled residential neighbourhood on the main island on Sunday.
The range of their professions and ages reflected the wide support the pro-democracy movement enjoys.
They included a student, a teacher, a nurse, an airline pilot, a barber, a chef, an electrician, a construction worker and an unemployed person, according to their charge sheets.
Police had earlier said a total of 49 people, aged between 16 and 41, had been arrested over Sunday’s unrest.
Images show the horrifying moment that a car drives past protesters (left) before launching fireworks in their direction (right)
Protesters can be stodd watchin in horror as the flames take hold (left) and from afar the street is lit up in pink because of the fire works (right)
Last night protesters were in a stand off with police as they continued their weekely rallies on the streets of Hong Kong
An anti-extradition protester stands outside the Kwai Chung police station in Hong Kong on her phone, she stands infront of a back drop which is full of graffiti
The move to charge protesters with rioting came a day after Beijing publicly threw its weight behind Hong Kong’s unelected leader Carrie Lam and the police, saying violent protesters must be swiftly punished.
‘No civilised society or rule of law society will tolerate rampant violence,’ Yang Guang, spokesman for the cabinet-level Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, told reporters.
But while Beijing has issued increasingly shrill condemnations of the protests, it has left the city’s government to deal with the situation.
The past two weekends have seen a surge in the level of violence used by both protesters and police
The announcement late Tuesday that 44 protesters had been charged with rioting – an offence that carries a jail term of up to 10 years – triggered another round of clashes between police and protesters
A protester throws back a tear gas canister towards police during a demonstration on Sunday
China said at a press conference that attempts by what it called some irresponsible figures in the West to stoke turbulence in Hong Kong and contain China’s development would fail
Riot police fire tear gas at protesters during a protest at Sai Wan district in Hong Kong on Sunday. Hong Kong has been rocked by protests over the past two months against a proposed bill that would allow people to be extradited from the city to stand trial in mainland China
The Chinese emblem outside Beijing’s representative office in Hong Kong was splattered with black ink by protesters during a rally yesterday evening. Beijing’s spokesperson today condemned the ‘radical demonstrators’, saying their behaviour must not be tolerated
Pictures of the vadalised Chinese emblem and government building (above) have been allowed to circulate on social media such as Twitter-like Weibo after Beijing heavily censored the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in the former British colony for over a month
Lam has shown no sign of backing down beyond agreeing to suspend the extradition bill, and has made few public appearances.
Protesters have vowed to keep their campaign going until their core demands are met.
They include Lam’s resignation, an independent inquiry into police tactics, an amnesty for those arrested, a permanent withdrawal of the bill and the right to elect their leaders.
Under the terms of the 1997 handover deal from British to Chinese rule, Hong Kong enjoys rights and liberties unseen on the mainland, including an independent judiciary and freedom of speech.
But many say those rights are being curtailed, citing the disappearance into mainland custody of dissident booksellers, the disqualification of prominent politicians and the jailing of pro-democracy protest leaders.
Public anger has been compounded by rising inequality, the high costs of living and the perception that the city’s distinct language and culture are being threatened by ever closer integration with the Chinese mainland.
Chinese city casts images of its national flag on skyscrapers facing Hong Kong to warn protesters
The Chinese city of Shenzhen last Friday held a light show to urge the former British colony to stay loyal to Beijing.
The metropolis of 12 million people, which borders Hong Kong, had giant images of the Chinese national flag cast on skyscrapers on a waterfront in a show of might and warning to demonstrators.
The performance took place across the water from the New Territories, where weapon-wielding mobsters broke into a subway station and brutally beat protesters and passengers days earlier.
Footage of the light show was shot and uploaded to China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo by a user known as ‘Xin I Du Du‘.
Thousands of Chinese web users have praised Shenzhen, which has close business and social links with Hong Kong, for teaching activists and ‘pro-independence separatists’ a patriotic lesson.
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