Jail sentence for Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong

18 August, 2017, 01:12 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Joshua Wong

Wong and Law received community sentences and Chow a three-week suspended sentence at magistrates' court last August over the Civic Square protest.

A Hong Kong appeal court on Thursday jailed three prominent young Hong Kong democracy leaders for several months for "unlawful assembly" linked to the city's months-long pro-democracy protests in 2014.

A three-judge panel on Thursday made a decision to stiffen those sentences following the justice secretary's request.

Alex Chow and Nathan Law, who were also student leaders in the 2014 protests, were jailed for seven and eight months, in a move that critics said was created to keep them off the local legislature and deter future protests.

The former British colony, which has been governed under a "one country, two systems" formula since it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, was rocked by almost three months of mostly peaceful street occupations in late 2014, demanding Beijing grant the city full democracy. Law, who was the youngest lawmaker ever in Hong Kong, was one of four legislators ejected from his post in July. "However, we strongly disagree with the government treating political problems as "law and order" problems and focusing on the prosecution of protestors", he said.

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The ruling also has implications for the activists' political careers. Hong Kong is governed under the "One Country, Two Systems" model, which has allowed it to maintain a high degree of autonomy.

Three years after the 79-day Occupy protests calling for greater democracy in Hong Kong, the young leaders of the movement are going to jail.

The sentence disqualifies them from running for Hong Kong's legislature for five years.

According to report given by Juliana Liu in Hong Kong, it says that the "rights groups" have criticized the Hong Kong government, saying the appeals were political decisions meant to deter future protests and that it keeps young people out of elected politics.

"The charges against Chow, Law and Wong were political; the proceedings were political; the sentences are political", Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, told the Nikkei Asian Review on Thursday.

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A lower court had previously avoided deterrent punishment for Wong, Law and Chow, citing their "genuine wish to express their political ideals and concerns for society".

"For the sake of Hong Kong's democracy, they can chain us, but they can never imprison our determination". The judgment comes after they already served community service sentences handed down to them last summer on charges of unlawful assembly.

The sentencing of the three protest leaders capped an emotional week for the city's embattled democracy activists, with one Democratic Party member being accused Tuesday of falsifying an account of abduction and torture by Chinese agents.

Ahead of Thursday's ruling, a tearful crowd of about 100 gathered in the lobby of the court building, chanting support for the student leaders, while pro-Beijing groups demonstrated outside, public broadcaster RTHK reported.

The sentence comes just two days after 13 activists were jailed for an unrelated anti-development protest.

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But a string of legal interpretations by China's parliament of Hong Kong's mini-constitution, the Basic Law, as well as cross-border detentions of five Hong Kong booksellers, have left many fearing that the city's traditional freedoms of press and association, and its judicial independence, have been seriously eroded.



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