Anti-China protesters right to demonstrate upheld by courtBy DPA, IANS
Monday, December 20, 2010
HONG KONG - A Hong Kong court Monday threw out charges of unlawful assembly against six activists who demonstrated outside Beijing’s de facto embassy over the jailing of dissident Liu Xiaobo.
The activists were arrested Dec 25 last year for protesting at the Beijing Liaison Office over the jailing that day of Liu, who was earlier this month awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
They were accused of unlawful assembling on private property. A magistrate dismissed the charges Monday saying the surrounding area was public.
The ruling said the right to protest in public places was protected under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
Defendant Lee Cheuk-yan called the ruling an “affirmation of Hong Kong people’s right to protest”.
He complained that police had since sealed off the area outside the Beijing Liaison Office, stopping people from staging lawful anti-China protests.
Lee and the other activists were involved in scuffles with security guards and police inside the office’s compound but the magistrate said the disturbance was started by the security guards.
Hong Kong, which reverted to Chinese rule in 1997, has a mini-constitution guaranteeing political freedoms and is the only place on Chinese soil where anti-Beijing protests are tolerated.