Hong Kong, May 6 (IANS) A pro-democracy activist appeared in a Hong Kong court on Friday over charges related to a June 2014 protest outside Beijing’s liaison office.
The student politician, Joshua Wong is one of four party members of the League of Social Democrats accused of obstructing police officers from carrying out their duties during the protest, in which activists set fire to a copy of a key Beijing white paper, EFE news reported.
The paper addressed the extent of Hong Kong’s autonomy and the central government’s “complete jurisdiction” over the metropolis, and the incident ultimately led to the months-long Occupy Central protests that shut down key thoroughfares in the city between September and December 2014, costing retailers an estimated $283 million, according to Bloomberg.
Wong, a key figure of the pro-democracy protests, has denied the charges against him, including a police sergeant’s accusation that the student seized an empty water bottle from him and caused protesters to block him from his duties, according to the South China Morning Post newspaper.
The defendants have claimed the charges, which were brought more than a year after the protest took place, amount to political prosecution.
Hong Kong was officially handed back to the socialist People’s Republic of China in 1997 under a ‘One Country, Two Systems’ framework.
However, the perceived increase in encroachment on Hong Kong’s political autonomy and freedoms by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing, particularly in the run up to the special administrative region’s chief executive elections in 2017, remains a thorn in bilateral relations.