Hong Kong (AP) – Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong and two of his colleagues have been sentenced to prison for staging a protest. A court in Hong Kong on Wednesday sentenced Wong to 13.5 months in prison.
Well-known activists Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam have to spend ten and seven months in prison respectively.
The three democracy activists had previously confessed that in June of the previous year, when there were almost daily anti-government protests in Hong Kong, they had helped organize an unauthorized meeting outside Hong Kong Police Headquarters.
For Wong, it is the third sentence since he became involved in the democracy movement in Hong Kong. The 24-year-old had already organized protests as a teenager. After the overarching protests “for more democracy” in 2014, he had to spend several months in prison twice.
Last year, significantly larger protests erupted against Beijing’s growing influence. China subsequently passed a controversial security law for Hong Kong in late June. It targets activities that China considers subversive, separatist or terrorist. It is the most extensive breach of Hong Kong’s autonomy to date and gives China’s state security extensive powers.
Wong, who had already been in custody for the past few days, had anticipated the prison sentence that has now been imposed. According to a letter the activist posted to his Facebook page on Tuesday, after his introduction to pre-trial detention, he was forced to spend the days in a lonely cell with the lights on. He had to put his mouthguard over his eyes to sleep.
He felt “uncomfortable and worried” about the uncertainties, Wong continued. But he hoped to turn the pain and suffering he faced in prison into effect. “I know it will never be easy, but I’ll do my best.” He urged his followers to keep fighting.
“Even the intimidation Joshua Wong endured while in custody clearly shows that Hong Kong is in the dark when it comes to protecting human rights and the rule of law,” criticized Gyde Jensen (FDP), president of the Bundestag Human Rights Committee, after the verdict was announced. The prison sentences sentenced to Wong and his colleagues have also been signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Jensen added that the fact that the sentence was not fully exhausted should be seen more as a tactical maneuver than a sign of the rule of law that remained. The trial was a “political symbolic act” to be followed by a political response from abroad. Jensen called on the federal government and the EU to take action.