On the first anniversary of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, Amnesty International has called on China to release eight democracy supporters. 'Umbrella Movement' activists are to hold a minute's silence.
International human rights group Amnesty International has called for the release of eight mainland activists detained for supporting last year's pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
"The shameful prosecution of these activists demonstrates the Chinese authorities' contempt for freedom of expression, which does not bode well for Hong Kong," William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International said in a statement released on Monday.
Five of the activists, Su Changlan, Chen Qitang, Wang Mo, Xie Wenfei and Zhang Shengyu, have been formally arrested on suspicion of "inciting subversion of state power." A sixth person, Sun Feng, has been indicted with the same crime. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.
Amnesty said that two others, Ji Sizun and Ye Xiaozheng, could face up to five years in prison on the charges of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble." Ji Sizun faces an additional charge of "gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place," which also carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Occupy Central, calling for fully free leadership elections in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong, was launched a year ago, following more than a week of student protests. Thousands joined the already large crowds after police fired tear gas in the afternoon of September 28. The resulting Umbrella Movement was named after the umbrellas protesters carried to shelter from sun, rain, tear gas and pepper spray.
The protests continued for over two months before activists withdrew.
On Monday pro-democracy campaigners are due to gather at midday near the "Lennon Wall" near government headquarters where thousands of multi-colored paper notes had been posted expressing support during the protests last year.
A main rally is expected to be held in the Admiralty financial district on Monday afternoon. A moment of silence will be held at 5.59 pm local time (0959 UTC) to mark the minute when tear gas was fired.
The South China Morning Post said that 3,000 police officers were to be deployed.
Hong Kong has been governed under a "one country, two systems" arrangement since it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.
jm/bw (AFP, AP)
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