Hong Kong activist jailed a second time for 2014 protests

Ann Santiago
January 19, 2018

Authorities in China have jailed activist Joshua Wong for three months for his role in the 2014 pro-democracy protests against the perceived increase of authoritarian influence from China.

Ahead of the hearing, he said he had no regrets and vowed to keep fighting for democracy.

Wong Ching-tak, the current union president, said the union's role in social movements and the threat of arrest had put off many applicants, stating that "not everyone is willing to stand at the front".

The Umbrella Movement was an unprecedented rebuke to Beijing as tens of thousands of protesters brought parts of the city to a standstill demanding fully free leadership elections to replace a system where the chief executive is selected by a pro-Beijing committee. Umbrellas became a symbol of defiance after protesters used them as shields against police pepper spray and batons.

Wong, who was out on bail on public order charges linked to a separate 2014 incident, had earlier said he was ready to go back to jail.

As the judge said he had no power to grant bail to the duo, they were sent to a correctional facility in Lai Chi Kok Wednesday evening to serve time.

Benedict Rogers, founder and chair of the United Kingdom -based rights group Hong Kong Watch, tells TIME he was "surprised and shocked" by the ruling, but that it will be unlikely to derail Wong and his peers in their pursuit of universal suffrage and democratic norms in Hong Kong.

Fourteen other defendants including activist Lester Shum were given suspended sentences on contempt charges. "Even if we need to face prison sentencing, we will still continue to fight for democracy for the future". Joshua Wong's Demosisto colleague Agnes Chow will contest the Hogn Kong Island seat.

According to the Basic Law, the mini-constitution in effect since Hong Kong's handover to China, Beijing promised to allow elections of the city's leader and legislators by universal suffrage as an "ultimate aim" under the "one country, two systems" arrangement.

Wednesday's sentencing came after the High Court heard earlier that the activists remained in an "occupied" zone in Mong Kok on November 26, 2014 even after bailiffs announced the court injunction to the protesters and tried to clear the street with police assistance. But young people in particular have been highly critical of the ruling body, saying pressure from the Chinese government is threatening freedom of speech and judicial independence.

Wong, who was just 18 in 2014, is now seeking to overturn a six-month sentence for a separate protest action.

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