“BEING locked up is an inevitable part of our long, exhausting path to democracy,” wrote 21-year-old activist Joshua Wong in September. “Our bodies are held captive, but our pursuit of freedom cannot be contained.”
Jailed in August, the pro-democracy student leader is now writing a series of blog posts on the Guardian throughout his period of imprisonment in the semi-autonomous Chinese city-state of Hong Kong.
The second of his regular pieces was published on Sunday – days after he was released from Pik Uk correctional institution on bail – entitled A brief taste of freedom reminds me to never stop fighting for Hong Kong.
Last Tuesday, Hong Kong’s highest court granted bail pending an appeal over Wong and fellow activist Nathan Law’s jail terms for unlawful assembly linked to mass protests in 2014.
Along with Alex Chow, they were sentenced for their role in the Chinese ruled city’s democracy movement, coming as a blow to the youth-led push for universal suffrage and prompting accusations of political interference.
In the article, Wong described his daily routine in prison as entailing “marching exercises, vocational training, housekeeping chores” and various classes. He described it as a “dull and miserable” experience forcing “individuals to blindly obey.”
“Every little thing I had to do had been designed to impede the free spirit. I had no liberty to take even the smallest decisions.”
Hong Kong has been governed under a “one country, two systems” formula since its return from British to Chinese rule in 1997, allowing freedoms not enjoyed on mainland China that include an independent judiciary.
Wong, Chow and Law lead the largely peaceful “Umbrella Movement” that blocked major roads for 79 days in 2014, demanding Beijing grant Hong Kong full democracy.
“I’ve been spending most of my time meditating on those weeks that we spent camped out on the streets of Hong Kong,” he wrote on Sunday. “These massive sit-ins actually began not in 2014 but back in 1984, when Martin Lee and his companions started calling for democracy.”
Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers marched in protest against President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong in July, during which he oversaw the swearing-in of the city’s first female leader Carrie Lam.
“I’ve spent the past six years constantly on the front line of Hong Kong’s youth democracy struggle,” wrote Wong on Sunday. “I expect to spend much of the rest of my seventh year of activism behind bars, removed from my day-to-day duties.”
He doesn’t appear to be a fan of all the attention he personally is getting either.
It’s uncomfortable that I serve the least time but get the most coverage. Don’t focus on the one identified as hero.https://t.co/77tyjGBEI3
— Joshua Wong Chi-fung (@joshuawongcf) October 31, 2017
In his first piece for the Guardian from jail in September, Wong asserted: “Despite these difficulties, I remain proud of my commitment to the umbrella movement, which was born exactly three years ago today.”
A Court of Final Appeal hearing is scheduled to be held on Nov 7 to consider the trio’s applications for appeal. The next legal steps will likely be scrutinised closely, with the jailings having shaken confidence in Hong Kong’s vaunted rule of law.
“It’s highly likely that I’ll have to return to prison before too long since I’ve been found guilty of other charges related to the umbrella movement,” wrote Wong. “But the temporary freedom I am now enjoying serves as a small reminder not to give up the battle for greater, everlasting freedoms.”