Saturday, February 10, 2018

Umbrella Warriors Walk Free

Photo credit: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Hong Kong's highest court on Tuesday decided the three Umbrella Warriors, who were sentenced to jail last year for their role in the 2014 protests, could walk free. 

It was a reversal of an August 2017 verdict, the five-member Court of Final Appeal said on Tuesday that the "sentences of imprisonment" against Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow (above pic) are "quashed". 

The highest court said the appeals court "erred in dispensing with the need to consider other sentencing options", in meting out punishment against these three pro-democracy leaders. 

Their imprisonment last year had led some pro-democracy politicians to call them “political prisoners,” an accusation the Hong Kong government rejected. 

The "Umbrella Movement", which drew hundreds of thousands of protesters at its peak, was formed after Wong and other demonstrators stormed into a courtyard fronting the city's government headquarters in September 2014, demanding an end to China's pre-screening of candidates for election of the territory's leader. 

The name of the movement arose from the use of umbrellas as a tool for peaceful resistance to the Hong Kong police during the protests. 

The demonstrations, which continued for almost three months, brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill. 

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to China in 1997 under a "one country, two systems" agreement that supposedly ensured its freedoms, including a separate legal system. 

But Beijing has ultimate control, and pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong claim it is increasingly clamping down on the city's constitutionally enshrined freedoms. 

On Friday, it was learned that the trio, as well as the pro-democracy group behind the Umbrella Movement, have been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize  a first for Hong Kong.

Last evening, I met up with a small group of Frasers Kuala Lumpur Toastmasters. 

A special session was organized and three project speeches were presented. I was tasked to evaluate one of them, a CC#9 speech. I also gave additional feedback to the other two speakers.

In Toastmasters, there is always learning. And this Toastmasters club is blessed to have members who are hungry to learn. Respect.

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