Melody Chan (陳玉峰), a social activist, was arrested by the Hong Kong police this afternoon. She would be facing the charge of assisting the holding of an unauthorised assembly and taking part in an unauthorised assembly on 1st July, 2011, a public mass rally having taken place almost two years ago. Chan, a known activist in the Occupy Central campaign had recently been raising fund among the public for furthering the campaign.
The Occupy Central campaign, a civil disobedient proposal aiming at “true” universal suffrage in Hong Kong, was initiated in January this year by Benny Tai, an Associate Professor with Law Faculty, University of Hong Kong. The arrest was first reported by Chan on her facebook page saying, “I have just been arrested for 2011 71 demonstration, now heading to central police station.” In response to Chan’s prosecution, Tai expressed shock of the arrest and questioned that the act by the police was politically motivated. Tai, joined by two other promoters of the Occupy Central campaign Rev. Chu Yiu-ming and Professor Chan Kin Man strongly condemned the prosecution and accused that Hong Kong had become a police city. Tai also expressed that it was of great indignation of the Hong Kong Government that they had used white terror to scare the public off participating in a peaceful movement.
Early in January this year, Chan interviewed Tai about the Occupy Central campaign. Chan then published an article, “Attaining Justice through Law: a Bomb of Civil Disobedience“. The article attracted wide public attention and resulted in intense debate in the media, accounting for the formation of the campaign. (Link to the article: http://bit.ly/12cEDwc ).
On 30th April, 2013, two Hong Kong lawmakers, Raymond Wong Yuk-man and Albert Chan Wai-yip were convicted after trial by the magistrate, Joseph To, of the same offence, out of the same incident. Sentencing was adjourned to 16th May this year. It is believed that the police intend to borrow the lawmakers’ case as a “precedent” scenario and short cut to pressurize activists in the Occupy Central campaign and to scarce off the public from involving themselves in the campaign.
For years, Hong Kong people have been used to organise and take part in a public mass rally making a divergent range of protests (called “7-1 Rally”). It was the prosecution’s allegation that while the 7-1 Rally on 1st July, 2011 was an authorized assembly and procession, soon after it, hundreds of supporters of People’s Power, a political party headed by Wong, at Wong’s urging, vowed to march to Government House for further protests and demonstrations. The protesters subsequently ended up staging a sit-down on Garden Road. In the lawmakers’ case, the magistrate ruled that though the rally appeared to have spun off from the 7-1 Rally, it was not part of the authorized demonstration as the two events were inconsistent in time, assembly point, route and objectives. Both lawmakers had vowed their determination to appeal against the ruling and conviction.
Tai expressed no worry of the impact of Chan’s arrest on the Occupy Central campaign. “It will inspire more people to take part in the pursuit of justice”, said Tai.
More reading on “Occupy Central”: