torsdag 3. januar 2019

As Hong Kong tightens screws on rebellion, democracy moves further out of reach

"If this is the cup I must take, I will drink with no regret." Benny Tai was defiant and emotional as he faced the court. Outside, he and his fellow defendants raised their fists and supporters displayed yellow umbrellas, the symbol of Hong Kong's beleaguered pro-democracy movement.

That movement is looking shakier than ever, as Tai and others begin the new year facing possible jail time -- up to seven years in prison -- for their roles in inspiring the 2014 Umbrella Movement, when tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the semi-autonomous Chinese city demanding elections free of Beijing's interference.

Several thousand people -- including former Umbrella leaders -- took part in a traditional New Year's march Tuesday, warning of "shrinking freedoms" and issuing a call for greater democracy. They were joined by a small group of pro-independence demonstrators, some of whom said they faced harassment and intimidation ahead of the gathering. On Wednesday, a spokesman for the Hong Kong government reiterated "its zero tolerance on 'Hong Kong independence'."