In Hong Kong the trial was against Joshua Wong and other democracy activists started. Wong anticipated immediate detention – facing a long prison term.
In Hong Kong, the trial of three prominent democracy activists began on Monday for calling and participating in unauthorized protests. Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow pleaded guilty at the start of the trial. You face several years in prison.
Like his co-defendants Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, he decided to “plead guilty on all counts,” Wong told journalists in front of the courthouse shortly before the trial began. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I was arrested immediately today,” said the 24-year-old. “We will keep fighting for freedom, and now is not the time to duck and give up in front of Beijing.” The court ruled that the three activists would not be allowed to go free until the trial ended on December 2.
Charges for protest in front of the police headquarters
The three well-known democracy activists are charged with an authorized protest rally outside Hong Kong Police Headquarters in June 2019. Wong pleaded guilty to inciting and organizing an illegal gathering. His co-defendants also pleaded guilty to instigating the rally, while Chow also admitted to having attended.
The offenses can be punished with up to five years imprisonment, however the competent court can only impose prison sentences of up to three years. An admission of guilt can lead to milder sentences.
Over 10,000 arrests during the protests
In 2019 there had been mass protests in Hong Kong for months against Beijing’s increasing influence. The protesters also regularly went outside police headquarters to request an independent investigation into police violence against government opponents. More than 10,000 people were arrested during the protests. Since then, the Hong Kong authorities have stepped up their crackdown on the democracy movement.
Since June, they can also fall back on a so-called security law passed by Beijing. It allows the Hong Kong authorities to crack down on any activity they believe threatens China’s national security.