Democracy activist Joshua Wong has been jailed for the third time in Hong Kong. His colleagues are also punished.
Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong has been sentenced to prison. At the start of the trial just over a week ago, Wong pleaded guilty to having organized an unauthorized protest in front of the police headquarters in the Wan Chai district on June 21 of the previous year. His fellow campaigners Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow were also sentenced to prison terms.
“The coming days will be tough, but we’ll hold out,” said 24-year-old Wong as he was led out of the courtroom. Chow burst into tears at the verdict. Wong was sentenced to 13.5 months, Chow to ten months, and Lam to seven months.
Another sentence for Wong
For Wong it is the third prison sentence since he became involved in the democracy movement in Hong Kong. The 24-year-old had already organized protests as a teenager. After the “umbrella protests” for more democracy in 2014, he had to spend several months in prison twice.
Last year, significantly larger protests broke out against Beijing’s increasing influence. China then passed a controversial security law for Hong Kong in late June. It is directed against activities that China sees as subversive, separatist or terrorist. It is the most extensive encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy to date and gives China’s state security extensive powers.
Wong reports of harassment in custody
Wong, who had already been in custody for the past few days, had anticipated the prison sentence that has now been imposed. According to a letter that the activist posted on his Facebook page on Tuesday, he had to spend the days in a solitary cell with the lights on after his introduction to pre-trial detention. He had to pull his mouthguard over his eyes in order to sleep.
He felt “uncomfortable and anxious” about the uncertainties, Wong continued. But he hoped to be able to transform the pain and suffering he encountered in prison into strength. “I know it will never be easy, but I’ll do my best.” He urged his followers to keep fighting.
Process a “political symbolic act”
“Even the harassment that Joshua Wong had to endure during his pre-trial detention clearly shows that Hong Kong is in the dark when it comes to human rights protection and the rule of law,” criticized the chairwoman of the Bundestag Human Rights Committee, Gyde Jensen (FDP), after the verdict was announced. The prison terms to which Wong and his colleagues were sentenced also bear the signature of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Jensen added that the fact that the sentence was not exhausted should be seen more as a tactical maneuver than as a sign of the remaining rule of law. The process was a “political symbolic act”, which must be followed by a political reaction from abroad. Jensen called on the federal government and the EU to take action.