What was Hong Kong's 'Occupy' movement all about?

Reuters HONG KONG | Updated on April 24, 2019 Published on April 24, 2019

(L to R) Pro-democracy activists Chan Kin-man, Benny Tai and Chu Yiu-ming arrive at the court for sentencing on their involvement in the Occupy Central, also known as Umbrella Movement, in Hong Kong, China on April 23.   -  Reuters

Occupy Central is the name given to the protests that paralysed parts of Hong Kong for 79 days in late 2014.

Demonstrators demanding that China's Communist Party leaders allow genuine universal suffrage in the Chinese-ruled city blocked roads in three important districts - Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok - drawing more than a million people, organisers estimated.

Following are key facts about the protest and the trial:

* The so-called Occupy Central with Love and Peace civil disobedience campaign was first suggested by Benny Tai, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, in 2013.

* Chan Kin-man, a former professor, and retired pastor Chu Yiu-ming helped Tai promote the campaign to occupy parts of Hong Kong's business district should Beijing not allow universal suffrage in an election to select the city's leader.

* Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, states that both Hong Kong's leader and its legislature be elected by universal suffrage as an “ultimate aim”.

* The Standing Committee of China's legislature, the National People's Congress, declared on Aug. 31, 2014, that any candidate for Hong Kong's leader would have to get majority backing from an election committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists, as well as imposing other conditions that some in the city's opposition deemed “fake, China-style democracy”.

* The nomination conditions effectively made it impossible for opposition figures to get on the ballot and proved a trigger for the 2014 protests, also known as the Umbrella Revolution after the umbrellas protesters used to fend off police pepper spray, teargas and batons.

* Nine defendants were involved in the landmark public nuisance trial, the most explicit attempt by authorities to punish instigators of the protests.

* Besides the “Occupy trio” of Tai, Chan and Chu, the other six were: lawmakers Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun; two former student leaders, Eason Chung and Tommy Cheung; activist Raphael Wong; and veteran democrat Lee Wing-tat.

* Others involved in the protests, including young democracy activist Joshua Wong, have been involved in other cases on charges including unlawful assembly and contempt of court, in what critics say has been the systematic persecution of the city's democratic forces.

* Police forcibly cleared the protesters in December 2014.

* Authorities granted no democratic concessions.

Published on April 24, 2019
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