Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong faces up to five years in jail over protests

Joshua Wong and two other prominent pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have been taken into police custody after pleading guilty to charges related to last year’s anti-government protests. 

Wong, 24, was not a leading figure in last year’s pro-democracy protests that overtook the city. Still, being a famous face for the movement, Wong continued to draw the ire of the Chinese Communist Party, becoming a target in Beijing’s dismantling of the city’s promised political autonomy.

Prosecutors charged Wong, along with fellow activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow, with organizing and knowingly inciting an unauthorized assembly. The charges stemmed from a demonstration that took place outside Hong Kong police headquarters in June of last year, at the height of the protests.

Ahead of the hearing, Wong told reporters that China’s efforts to crack down on dissent would not stop their pro-democracy work.

“I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism.”

In a Facebook post before her sentencing, Chow admitted to being fearful of what prison would have in store for her.

“If sentenced, this will be my first time in prison. While I say I have mentally prepared for this, I am still a bit scared,” she wrote.

In pleading guilty, the three face somewhere between three to five years behind bars. They will remain in custody until their sentencing on Dec. 2.

In June of this year, China approved a sweeping and contentious national security law that permitted Communist Party authorities to crack down on “subversive and secessionist activity” in Hong Kong.

The legislation was passed amid warnings and criticism both in Hong Kong and internationally that it would be used to curb opposition voices and dissent.

Many criticized the law as Beijing’s boldest effort to date to crack down on the territory, which has maintained a semi-autonomous system separate from that of mainland China since it was handed back to the communist nation by the British in 1997.

Since then, CCP-backed authorities have made hundreds of arrests based on the law, which broadly bars “any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government.”

As a result of the controversial legislation, Wong was forced to disband his political advocacy group, Demosisto, within hours of it going into law.

He was also disqualified, along with 11 other pro-democracy lawmakers and activists, from running for office in the since-postponed election to be in Hong Kong’s legislature.

With Post wires

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