A Hong Kong court charged 44 protesters with rioting Wednesday due to their involvement in Sunday protests. The peaceful sit-in in a park became “running battles between black-clad demonstrators and police.” They are the first to be charged since protests over the extradition bill began.
The defendants were released on bail. Most were ordered to remain in Hong Kong, except a pilot who is able to leave when working, and have a midnight to 6 AM curfew imposed on them, except for a children’s home worker.
Hong Kong’s anti-riot law defines rioting as an unlawful assembly of three or more people where any person commits a breach of the peace. If convicted under this law, the sentence can be up to 10 years in prison. This heavy sentence has sparked outrage, and protesters demonstrated at the courthouse where the 44 defendants were charged.
While the protests initially began in April to demonstrate against the extradition bill, they have since developed into a call for democratic reform.