Hong Kong: Umbrella revolution leader Joshua Wong jailed
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Hong Kong: Umbrella revolution leader Joshua Wong jailed

HONG Kong activist and leader of the city’s youth-led push for universal suffrage Joshua Wong was jailed for six months on Thursday along with two other pro-democracy advocates.

Wong, 20, was jailed, along with two other student leaders – Nathan Law, 26, and Alex Chow, 24 – for his role in the 2014 pro-democracy protests known as the Umbrella Revolution.

Having been tried and found guilty of unlawful assembly last year, Wong was sentenced to community service. But in an unusual move from the Hong Kong government, the sentence was appealed for being too lenient which lead to Thursday’s ruling of imprisonment.


The “umbrella revolution” demands democracy and the right to select the next chief executive of Hong Kong. Protesters occupy the Mong Kok district, 15 November 2014. Source: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Law was sentenced to eight months in prison, while Chow received a seven-month sentence.

Law had been the city’s youngest ever democratically elected legislator before he was stripped last month of his seat by a government-led lawsuit.

Under Hong Kong law, the sentences bar the three from standing as candidates in elections for five years.

Rights groups have criticised the Hong Kong government, saying the appeals were political decisions intended to deter future protests and to keep young people out of elected politics.

President of Freedom House Michael J. Abramowitz, called the trio “heroes, not criminals” and claimed the Hong Kong courts “showed their subservience to authorities in Beijing, and their willingness to suppress the political rights and civil liberties of all Hong Kongers,” in a statement released Friday.

Amnesty International decried the “relentless and vindictive pursuit” of pro-democracy activists, and said the “vague charges” brought against Wong and others, “smacks of political payback”.

But the Hong Kong government has denied this, saying there was “absolutely no basis” to claims of political motives.

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The harsh sentencing is seen as a warning to others who may push for greater freedom in the semi-autonomous enclave, which has struggled to fend off Beijing’s gradual political encroachment since it came under Chinese sovereignty 20 years ago.

Prior to the sentencing, Wong urged his supporters who had gathered in the High Court lobby to continue fighting for full democracy.

“I hope Hong Kong people won’t give up. Victory is ours. When we are released next year I hope we can see a Hong Kong that is full of hope. I want to see Hong Kong people not giving up. This is my last wish before I go to jail,” as reported by Reuters.

Immediately after the sentence was announced, Wong took to his Twitter account with a series of defiant messages, ending his series of tweets with a simple “see you soon.”

In recent months, dozens of protesters, mostly young people, have been jailed for their roles in various protests, including a violent demonstration that the government called a riot in early 2016.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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