Leading Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was jailed along with two other young activists for leading an illegal rally outside the city’s police headquarters last year on huge democracy protests.
Wong was sentenced to 13. 5 months in jail while his colleagues Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were given 10 months and seven months, an AFP reporter in the court said on Wednesday.
Hong Kong has been rocked by seven consecutive months of large and often violent rallies, with millions taking to the streets.
Beijing has rejected demands for universal suffrage, and the authorities have persecuted democracy supporters with criminal cases and a tough new security law.
The tactic stifled movement and restored a semblance of calm. The financial center remains highly polarized, however, and many are still seething against Beijing’s growing influence over the semi-autonomous city.
Wong, 24, was persecuted along with activists Lam and Chow for a protest outside police headquarters last summer.
Despite his youth, Wong has already spent time in prison leading anti-democracy protests and says he is prepared for more time behind bars.
« All of this pain and suffering would only strengthen our courage and conviction for democracy and justice, » read a post on his verified Twitter account on Monday, along with a letter from Wong stating that he was before the conviction was held in solitary confinement.
3. In times of uncertainty, some of us may feel uncomfortable and anxious, but I assure you that all of this pain and suffering would only increase our courage and conviction for democracy and justice. Cages cannot imprison souls. https: // t. co / YZLWOfcpJh
Wong, Chow and Lam, 26, joined the anti-Beijing movement in Hong Kong as teenagers.
All three organized successful rallies in 2012 against plans to make the Hong Kong education system more « patriotic ». .
And they played a prominent role two years later in the « Umbrella Movement » – a 79-day peaceful occupation by a largely student-led campaign that called for universal suffrage.
Leaders in these protests, including Wong, were arrested and the democracy movement struggled for years.
But it exploded again on the streets in June 2019, triggered by plans to allow extraditions to mainland China and its opaque legal system.
Millions took to the streets over the next seven months in a deliberately leaderless campaign, largely organized through social media, calling for more democracy and police accountability.
Riot police released thousands of rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets and were often filmed with batons to beat arrested demonstrators.
Personalities like Wong and Chow joined some protests and also used their celebrity status over the years to advocate international sanctions. This infuriated Beijing when the state media labeled them as traitors.
Earlier this summer, Beijing passed a comprehensive security law increasing its direct control over the city and banning certain political views.
In the last 18 months, more than 10. 000 people arrested and most of Hong Kong’s leading activists and opposition figures are being prosecuted.
« The suppression is not just aimed at celebrities. It comes from all directions and haunts all kinds of people, « Isaac Cheng, a friend of Wong and a former vice chairman of her now-defunct political party Demosisto, told AFP.
Chow is under investigation under the Security Act for alleged « conspiracy with foreign forces » by pressing for sanctions.
Wong is one of another group of activists who are being prosecuted for holding a vigil to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Beijing Tiananmen actions earlier this year.
« We thought this place was ours, but it now turns out to be a crime for a student to think differently from the government, » he said.
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Joshua Wong, Hong Kong, Agnes Chow, pro-democracy camp, protest, Demosisto, Ivan Lam
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