Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong jailed for thirteen-and-a-half months for anti-government protest
Joshua Wong, 24, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent democracy activists, was jailed on Wednesday for 13-1/2 months for his role in an unlawful anti-government rally in 2019, the toughest and most high-profile sentencing of an opposition figure this year.
Wong’s sentence comes as critics say the Beijing-backed government is intensifying a crackdown on Hong Kong’s opposition and wide-ranging freedoms guaranteed after the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, a charge authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong reject.
Wong had pleaded guilty to organising and inciting an unlawful assembly near the city police headquarters during the height of the sometimes violent demonstrations in June last year. He faced a maximum of three years in jail.
About 100 supporters gathered quietly inside the court ahead of the sentence, while a small group of pro-Beijing people rallied outside, calling for a hefty prison sentence.
“I know the coming days will be tougher. We will hang in there,” Wong shouted after the sentence was read out.
“It’s not the end of the fight,” Wong said later through his lawyer.
“Ahead of us is another challenging battleground. We’re now joining the battle in prison along with many brave protesters, less visible yet essential in the fight for democracy and freedom for Hong Kong.”
Wong’s long-time colleagues Agnes Chow, 23, and Ivan Lam, 26, were jailed for a total of 10 and seven months, respectively, on charges linked to the same siege when thousands of protesters surrounded the police headquarters on June 21 to demand the government withdraw a now-shelved extradition bill.
Chow, who cried inside the court room on hearing her sentence, had pleaded guilty to incitement and participation in an unlawful protest, while Lam pleaded guilty to incitement.
Ahead of sentencing, the judge read a letter from Wong’s mother to the court in which she said her son was “a young person who cares about society and is persistent in his ideals”.