Hong Kong democracy activists walk free in appeal victory

From left: Hong Kong democracy activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were jailed in August last year for their role in the 2014 Umbrella Movement mass pro-democracy protests. (AFP)
Updated 06 February 2018
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Hong Kong democracy activists walk free in appeal victory

HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s leading democracy activists won an appeal against their jail terms at the city’s highest court Tuesday in a case seen as a test for the independence of the city’s judiciary, which some fear is under pressure from Beijing.
Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were jailed in August last year for their role in the 2014 Umbrella Movement mass pro-democracy protests, after Hong Kong’s government pushed for harsher sentences.
A lower court had given Wong and Law community service orders and Chow a suspended sentence. But after the government’s intervention they were jailed for between six and eight months by the Court of Appeal.
All three activists were later bailed pending their appeal.
Chief justice Geoffrey Ma said Tuesday that the terms given to the trio were “significantly more severe” than the range previously handed down for unlawful assembly offenses.
Handing down the judgment in the Court of Final Appeal he also said had been “inappropriate” to hand the sentences down retrospectively.
The government’s move to seek jail sentences for the activists was seen as further evidence of Beijing’s growing influence over the semi-autonomous city, with Chinese authorities particularly riled by the emergence of activists calling for independence for Hong Kong.
Wong and Law’s political party Demosisto wants self-determination for the city.


Taliban say no peace with ‘occupation,’ want US talks

Updated 24 min 2 sec ago
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Taliban say no peace with ‘occupation,’ want US talks

  • The Taliban have always said the war can only end through direct talks with the US
  • Thousands of people - military and civilian - have been killed since the war began

KABUL, Afghanistan: The leader of the Taliban says there will be no peace in Afghanistan as long as the foreign “occupation” continues, reiterating the group’s position that the 17-year war can only be brought to an end through direct talks with the United States.
In a message released Saturday in honor of the Eid Al-Adha holiday, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzadah says the group remains committed to “Islamic goals,” the sovereignty of Afghanistan and ending the war.
The Taliban have had a major resurgence in recent years, seizing districts across the country and regularly carrying out large-scale attacks.
From 1996 until 2001, the Taliban ruled in accordance with a harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Women were barred from education and largely confined to their homes, and the country hosted Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.