HK student activists jailed for contempt of court

19 January, 2018, 01:57 | Author: Franklin Nunez
  • Former student leader Joshua Wong reacts outside High Court before receiving his sentence in Hong Kong

Student activist Joshua Wong has been sentenced by a Hong Kong court to a second jail term of three months for participating in the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement in 2014.

Wong had pleaded guilty to contempt of court for refusing to obey a court order to leave a protest site in the last days of demonstrations, known as the Umbrella Movement, that paralysed parts of Hong Kong without winning any concession from China.

The "Umbrella Movement", which drew hundreds of thousands of protesters at its peak, was formed after Wong and other demonstrators stormed into a courtyard fronting the city's government headquarters in September 2014, demanding an end to China's pre-screening of candidates for election of the region's leader. "Even if we need to face prison sentencing, we will still continue to fight for democracy for the future".

"A few months' jail term has a limited impact on these secessionists, and the judge also can't prevent more youths from following these activists", he said.

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Several others involved in the 2014 demonstrations received suspended sentences, according to the South China Morning Post, with the sentences ranging in length from one to two months.

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"We want genuine universal suffrage!" he said.

"They can lock up our bodies but they can't lock up our minds", he told reporters.

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The 79-day illegal mass occupation led to a community outcry after the protesters took over major business thoroughfares in the city's Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok areas.

Senior counsel Lawrence Lok Ying-kam, who represented Joshua Wong, said outside the court that he was somewhat disappointed with the sentencing of his client, adding that the judge could have given lighter punishment.

He criticized the government, accusing it of using courts to solve political problems.

Some 1,000 people were arrested in connection with the Umbrella Movement during its existence, mostly for public order offenses like "unlawful assembly", "obstructing police", "assaulting officers", and "contempt of court", the group said.

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Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997 with guarantees of a high degree of autonomy under the "one country, two systems" rule which guarantees press freedom and an independent judiciary.

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