Vastavam web: Two Hong Kong men were jailed for three years on rioting charges today, the latest in a series of legal actions against demonstrators.The unrest in February 2016 saw police fire warning shots in the air in the commercial district of Mong Kok as they clashed with protesters who hurled bricks torn up from pavements and set rubbish alight.The demonstrations were led by “localist” activists seeking more autonomy from Beijing, as fears grow that Hong Kong’s freedoms and identity are under threat from Chinese authorities and the city’s pro-China local government.
“Rioting is a very serious offence,” said judge Frankie Yiu. “Sentencing should be severe and serve as a deterrent.” The court heard that Yung and Law were masked and often at the frontline of the clashes. Lin had hurled bricks and was subdued by police, Yiu said in sentencing.The battles were dubbed the “fishball revolution” after a favourite Hong Kong street snack sold by the hawkers, and reflected underlying tensions over the erosion of the city’s traditions.Another fishball protester was jailed for more than four years in April for rioting and arson after he set fire to a car.
Three more participants received three-year sentences in March on riot charges.The failure of the Umbrella Movement to win reform has led to calls among some young campaigners for complete independence for Hong Kong, infuriating Beijing.Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that any challenge to Beijing’s control over semi-autonomous Hong Kong crossed a “red line” as he visited the city to mark the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover by Britain.