HONG KONG – A Hong Kong court has charged 44 people Wednesday for rioting due to their alleged involvement in violent demonstrations over the weekend.
Police had arrested 49 protesters, including a 16-year-old, for what it called “an illegal assembly” on Sunday, during which the protesters blocked roads. The police had fired tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.
The detainees included 32 men and 17 women and most of them are aged less than 30.
Holding and participating in illegal demonstrations is punishable in Hong Kong by between 3-5 years of imprisonment and fines.
Forty-four persons were charged for rioting.
Among them, a 33-year-old man was also indicted for assaulting a police officer.
Separately, another man, 24, was charged with possession of offensive weapons.
All but one accused appeared in the Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday and were greeted by a large crowd of supporters braving a heavy downpour amid a cyclone alert, chanting “There is no revolt, only tyranny” or “Hong Kong, the revolution of our time.”
The court released the 43 defendants on bail.
An arrest warrant was also issued against the accused, who did not appear in the court.
The next hearing of the case has been scheduled for Sept. 25.
On Sunday, protesters clashed with police, throwing parts of the city in chaos as thousands of people had gathered in Chater Park, in the heart of the island’s financial district, for a rally that was approved by the authorities.
A request from organizers to hold a march had been rejected because of the risk of violence.
The rally was organized against police action in recent weeks, amid allegations that the authorities have responded using excessive force to the protests.
Dressed in black, protesters chanted “Police, you should be ashamed” and carried banners with slogans such as “Free Hong Kong” and “Stop the violence.”
This was a new chapter in the demonstrations that began in early June against a controversial proposed extradition law to China.
Although the head of the local government Carrie Lam declared the contentious law “dead” at the beginning of the month, activists were not satisfied and have continued to flood the streets of the city for the past eight weekends.
It has led to broader demands on the democratic mechanisms of the city, whose sovereignty was recovered by Beijing in 1997 with the commitment to maintain until 2047 the structures established by the British.