Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was remanded in custody on Monday after he pleaded responsible to costs of organising and collaborating in an illustration exterior town’s police headquarters throughout final 12 months’s anti-government protests.
Wong, who was simply 17 years outdated when he turned the face of the 2014 student-led Umbrella Motion democracy protests, faces as much as 5 years in jail if convicted.
His fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow had been additionally remanded after they pleaded responsible over costs regarding the protest held on June 21 final 12 months.
All three, previously members of the now-disbanded Demosisto political occasion, shall be sentenced on December 2, in keeping with native media.
Earlier than getting into the courtroom, Wong instructed reporters that he wouldn’t be stunned if speedy detention adopted.
“Maybe the authorities want me to remain in jail one time period after one other,” Wong mentioned.
“However I’m persuaded that neither jail bars, nor election bans, nor every other arbitrary powers would cease us from activism. What we’re doing now could be to elucidate the worth of freedom to the world.”
Wong, who’s now 24, was not a number one determine in final 12 months’s pro-democracy protests, however his continued activism has drawn the wrath of China, which sees it as a “black hand” of overseas forces.
He disbanded his pro-democracy group Demosisto in June, simply hours after China’s parliament handed a sweeping nationwide safety legislation for Hong Kong, punishing any motion Beijing considers as subversion, secession, “terrorism” and collusion with overseas forces, with as much as life in jail.
Lam, who additionally spoke forward of the court docket listening to, mentioned he too was ready to be jailed.
The pair had beforehand pleaded not responsible to the costs, however Wong wrote on his Fb web page on Sunday that he and Lam had determined to vary course after consulting with their legal professionals.
‘A bit of bit scared’
Chow had already pleaded responsible to costs of inciting others and collaborating within the protest.
“If I’m sentenced to jail this time, it will likely be the primary time in my life that I’ve been in jail,” Chow wrote on her Fb web page on Sunday.
“Though I’m mentally ready, I nonetheless really feel somewhat bit scared. Nonetheless, in comparison with many pals, I’ve suffered little or no. After I consider this, I’ll attempt my greatest to face it bravely,” she wrote.
The Hong Kong Democracy Council, a Washington DC-based organisation devoted to preserving the territory’s freedoms, condemned the court docket resolution and known as for his or her launch.
“Make no mistake, once they pled responsible in court docket at this time, it was not a judgement on them however somewhat a judgement in opposition to a poisoned Hong Kong judiciary system not impartial or able to rendering justice,” managing director Samuel Chu mentioned in an announcement.
Wong additionally faces costs of taking part in an unauthorised meeting in October 2019 and on June 4, 2020 over a vigil commemorating the crackdown on protesters in and round Beijing’s Tiananmen Sq. in 1989.
He spent 5 weeks in jail final 12 months for contempt of court docket, earlier than being launched on June 16 when the protests had been already in full swing. Promising to proceed preventing for democracy, he made appearances at quite a few rallies all year long.
The protests had been intentionally leaderless, largely organised by social media and encrypted chat boards. They had been additionally rather more violent.
Riot police unleashed 1000’s of rounds of tear gasoline and rubber-coated bullets and had been continuously filmed utilizing batons to beat arrested demonstrators. Small teams of hardline activists resorted to rocks, petrol bombs and even bows and arrows.
Greater than 10,000 folks had been arrested in the course of the protests and Hong Kong’s courts at the moment are full of trials as a lot of the metropolis’s main activists and opposition figures face prosecution.
The demonstrations petered out firstly of this 12 months due to fatigue, mass arrests and the emergence of the coronavirus. An anti-pandemic ban on greater than 4 folks gathering in public has remained in place for many of this 12 months.
Wong and different activists’ repeated arrests have drawn criticism from Western governments who say China is just not fulfilling its obligation to permit Hong Kong a excessive diploma of autonomy, agreed with former colonial grasp Britain when town returned to Chinese language rule in 1997.
China denies the accusation and says issues in Hong Kong are its inside affair.