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DEMOCRACY
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong detained by police
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) June 28, 2017


Hong Kong cops jailed for beating protester released on bail
Hong Kong (AFP) June 28, 2017 - Three Hong Kong police officers who were jailed for beating a protester during mass pro-democracy Umbrella Movement rallies in 2014 were released on bail Wednesday in an emotionally charged case.

The trio were among seven cops convicted and jailed for two years in February for assault causing actual bodily harm to activist Ken Tsang, an attack filmed by a local TV network in footage that shocked local residents and was beamed around the world.

It showed a group of men hauling a handcuffed Tsang into a dark corner in a public park near the government headquarters, where he was beaten by one man who stood over him inflicting blows while others repeatedly kicked him.

They were bailed a day before the highly anticipated visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping to mark the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China.

In the February sentencing, judge David Dufton described the attack as "a vicious assault".

But the officers' imprisonment triggered a backlash from some in the force, with supporters saying they had been under too much pressure during the protests, which brought parts of the city to a standstill for more than two months.

More than 30,000 officers and their relatives gathered to protest after the sentencing which they said was unfair.

On Wednesday judge Wally Yeung said the punishment handed to three of the seven men may have been "excessive", the South China Morning Post reported.

They were released on bail pending an appeal.

Yeung said the officers had to work long hours with no rest in the face of violent protesters and said Tsang, a social worker, showed offensive behaviour, the Post reported.

The date of the appeal hearing was not set.

Tsang was himself found guilty last year of assaulting and resisting officers on the same night, when he splashed an unspecified liquid on police.

He has served his five-week sentence and was released in April.

The 2014 rallies were largely peaceful but saw some late-night clashes between police and demonstrators, particularly in the main protest zones in the business district of Admiralty and the busy commercial area of Mong Kok.

Hong Kong student pro-democracy campaigner Joshua Wong was detained by police on Wednesday after an anti-China protest ahead of a visit by President Xi Jinping.

Wong was among around 30 protesters who had staged a three-hour sit-in at a harbourfront statue and were led away into police vans.

Xi's visit this week marks 20 years since Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain and comes at a time when fears are growing that Beijing is tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city.

Protesters had encircled the sculpture of a golden bauhinia flower which became the emblem of Hong Kong in 1997.

The statue was given to the city by China as a present to mark the handover.

Some activists chained themselves to the sculpture while others climbed into its petals.

Police cleared the area and surrounded the statue, leading away protesters one by one.

Most walked but Wong and young legislator Nathan Law lay down and were carried away from the scene.

Before the arrests began, protesters shouted: "Civil disobedience, no fear!" and "Xi Jinping, can you hear us?"

Police had warned them that they were causing a public nuisance and would be arrested if they did not move.

As Wong was carried away to the awaiting vans, he shouted: "Protest on July 1!" -- the anniversary of the handover.

His party Demosisto, which is calling for self-determination for Hong Kong, said in a statement that eight of its activists, including Wong and Law, had been arrested.

The final protesters to be removed were inside the golden flower and helped down by firefighters.

- 'I'm a Hong Konger!' -

Xi is due to land in Hong Kong on Thursday for a three-day visit to attend anniversary celebrations and swear in the city's new leader Carrie Lam.

Hong Kong is ruled under a "one country, two systems" deal, enshrined in the handover agreement, which allows it rights unseen on the mainland, including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary.

But there are concerns that China is increasingly interfering in a range of areas, from politics to education and the media.

Protesters at the bauhinia statue chanted "Long live the Umbrella Movement!" and "I'm a Hong Konger!"

The Umbrella Movement was the name given to mass rallies in 2014 calling for democratic reforms. Wong and Law were among the student leaders of those protests, which ultimately failed to win concessions.

Frustration over the lack of progress has prompted campaigners like Wong and Law to call for self-determination -- other activists are demanding a complete split from China.

Protesters at the statue also called for the release of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who was granted medical parole this week due to late-stage liver cancer but remains in the mainland.

The writer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, now 61, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for "subversion"after spearheading a bold petition for democratic reforms.

The bauhinia statue stands outside the convention centre where Xi will attend anniversary events and is a stone's throw from the hotel he will stay in.

The spot is popular with mainland visitors.

Some of the demonstrators, including Wong, had already draped the statue with a black flag on Monday during an early morning anti-China protest. It was removed by police.

Hong Kong protesters stage sit-in ahead of Xi visit
Hong Kong (AFP) June 28, 2017 - Pro-democracy protesters climbed a statue in Hong Kong Wednesday and staged a sit-in ahead of a visit by President Xi Jinping to mark 20 years since the city was handed back to China by Britain.

Xi's visit this week comes at a time when fears are growing that Beijing is tightening its grip on semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

High-profile student activist Joshua Wong was among more than 20 demonstrators who encircled the sculpture of a golden bauhinia flower which became the emblem of Hong Kong in 1997.

The statue was given to the city by China as a present to mark the handover.

Some activists chained themselves to the sculpture while others climbed into its petals.

Pro-democracy lawmakers Nathan Law and Leung Kwok-hung, also known as Long Hair, were among the protesters sitting at its base as police cordoned off the square, which is a popular tourist attraction.

Xi is due to land in Hong Kong on Thursday for a three-day visit to attend anniversary celebrations and swear in the city's new leader Carrie Lam.

The city is ruled under a "one country, two systems" deal, enshrined in the handover agreement, which allows it rights unseen on the mainland, including freedom of speech and an independent judiciary.

But there are concerns that China is increasingly interfering in a range of areas, from politics to education and the media.

Protesters at the bauhinia statue chanted "Long live the Umbrella Movement!" and "I'm a Hong Konger!"

The Umbrella Movement was the name given to mass rallies in 2014 calling for democratic reforms. Wong and Law were among the student leaders of those protests, which ultimately failed to win concessions.

Activists on Wednesday also called for the release of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo who was granted medical parole this week due to late-stage liver cancer but remains in the mainland.

The writer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, now 61, was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for "subversion" after spearheading a bold petition for democratic reforms.

"Free Liu Xiaobo! Free all political prisoners! Universal suffrage now!" the protesters chanted.

They have pledged to remain overnight at the harbourfront square, which is outside the convention centre where Xi will attend anniversary events and a stone's throw from the hotel he will stay in.

The spot is popular with mainland visitors.

Police cleared tourists from the square shortly after the protesters occupied the statue.

Demonstrators were livestreaming the sit-in and asking others to join them.

Some, including Wong, had already draped the statue with a black flag on Monday during an early morning anti-China protest. It was removed by police.

DEMOCRACY
Marine Le Pen to meet judges over party funding claims: AFP
Paris (AFP) June 22, 2017
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen told AFP Thursday she had arranged to meet investigating magistrates over claims her party misused European Parliament funds to pay for staff in France. "The meeting has already been arranged," said Le Pen, who had refused to answer any questions over the accusations while she was running in this year's presidential election. She refused to say when the ... read more

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