Taiwanese lawmaker Huang Kuo-chang and activist Lin Fei-fan – both former leaders of Taiwan’s Sunflower student movement – have voiced support for the activists jailed by Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal on Tuesday over clashes outside the legislature in 2014.
Following a successful application by the Department of Justice for a review of sentence, the 13 environmental activists were handed jail sentences, despite having already finished serving their community service orders.
On Thursday, activists Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Alex Chow – who were involved in the Civic Square clashes that sparked the 2014 Occupy protests – may face the same fate over a similar legal challenge lodged by the Justice Department.
Earlier this year, Huang established Taiwan Congressional Hong Kong Caucus, a cross-party group that aims to promote exchanges in democratic experiences between legislators in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
At a press conference organised by the group on Wednesday, Huang said: “We hope the Hong Kong government can respect and safeguard the public’s determination towards striving for democracy and freedom.”
“We also hope the courts will not to abandon their previous excellent tradition of [upholding] the spirit of the rule of law.”
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Lin appeared choked up and said some of his friends from Hong Kong who came to his wedding in Taiwan in June were defendants in the two cases. He said it was difficult to think that they were now political criminals.
The pair were among several student and civic groups which occupied Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan in March 2014 over a trade pact with China. Over 400 people were investigated.
In Hong Kong, lawmaker Paul Tse told RTHK on Wednesday that the ruling by the appeal court had a deterrent effect and can serve as a guide for society. Giving an example, he said that methamphetamine was previously only seen as a social drug, but subsequent rulings elevated it to the ranks of drugs such as cocaine.
The protests in 2014 were in response to Finance Committee chair Ng Leung-sing forcing a vote on a HK$340 million funding proposal for a controversial northeast New Territories development plan. The vote took place whilst pan-democrats were out of their seats.