Three leading Hong Kong democracy activists were sentenced to prison Wednesday for involvement in a 2019 protest outside police headquarters. The sentence comes as the government pushes against opposition to strengthen Beijing’s control over the territory.
The three activists are Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam. They are among the more than 10,000 demonstrators arrested since June 2019. The demonstrations began over a proposed extradition law but expanded to include demands for greater democracy.
The Chinese government then passed a national security law to punish protestors, which led to more public opposition.
Joshua Wong is known for being a student leader of the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution” protests in Hong Kong. The 24-year-old was sentenced to 13 and a half months in prison. He pleaded guilty to organizing and taking part in the June 2019 demonstration outside Hong Kong’s police headquarters.
Agnes Chow was sentenced to 10 months after pleading guilty to demonstrating and inciting other protesters. Ivan Lam pleaded guilty to incitement and was sentenced to seven months.
Critics say the Chinese government in Beijing is breaking its promise to keep Hong Kong partly independent until 2047. China agreed to the “one country, two systems” structure when Britain surrendered control of Hong Kong in 1997.
Other democracy activists, including media business leader Jimmy Lai, have also been arrested under the security law.
Hong Kong’s final British governor, Chris Patten, criticized the sentencing. He said in a statement that it is another example of China’s desire to put Hong Kong in handcuffs.
Maria Adebahr is a spokeswoman for Germany’s foreign ministry. She told reporters in Berlin the sentences are another worrisome event “in connection with human and civil rights” in Hong Kong.
U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn accused China of violating human rights and destroying Hong Kong’s ability to self-rule.
She expressed support for Wong, calling him influential to freedom fighters everywhere.
Rights group Amnesty International said the three “must be released immediately and unconditionally.”
“Once again, the government has used the politically motivated charge of ‘inciting others to protest’” to jail people who have only protested peacefully, said Yamini Mishra. She is Amnesty’s Asia-Pacific director.
She said officials are sending a warning that anyone brave enough “to openly criticize the government could be next.”
I’m Alice Bryant.
Alice Bryant adapted this story from reports by the Associated Press and Reuters news agencies. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
extradition - n. the act of sending a person who has been accused of a crime) to another state or country for trial
plead - v. to say in court that you are either guilty or not guilty of a crime
incite - v. to cause someone to act in an angry, harmful, or violent way
handcuffs - n. a set of two metal rings that are joined together and locked around a person's wrists
motivated - adj. provided a motive for something