By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, August 18: A Hong Kong court has jailed three forefront leaders of the 2014 ‘Umbrella Movement’ yesterday for their involvement in the largest pro-democracy protests ever held in the city.
Joshua Wong, 20 was sentenced to six months in prison, while Nathan Law, 24, and Alex Chow, 26, were sentenced to eight and seven months respectively, reports Hong Kong Fee Press.
Convicted on charges of unlawful assembly last July, Wong and Law were sentenced 80 and 120 hours of community service respectively while Chow received a three-week suspended jail sentence.
But the court pronounced the jail sentence on Thursday, almost three years after the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests, following a successful appeal of their sentences by the Department of Justice, the report added.
“They can silence protests, remove us from the legislature and lock us up. But they will not win the hearts and minds of Hongkongers,” Wong tweeted after the sentence was announced.
Hong Kong government’s political persecution of the three activists received criticism from across the world. “Hong Kong authorities should never have prosecuted these three student leaders for peaceful protests in the first place. The justice department’s outlandish application seeking jail time is not about public order but is instead a craven political move to keep the trio out of the Legislative Council, as well as deter future protests,” the report quoted Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, as saying.
US Senator Marco Rubio, Chair of the Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC), condemned the political prosecutions of the three activists and remarked that its evident that Hong Kong’s cherished autonomy is precipitously eroding.
“The relentless and vindictive pursuit of student leaders using vague charges smacks of political payback by the authorities,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong branch.
Taiwan, which also witnessed a huge anti-China protest during the ‘Sunflower Movement’ in 2014 also condemned the sentencing of the democracy activists.
“The council reiterates the government’s long-standing stance to support Hong Kong people to pursue democracy, freedom, the rule of law and human rights,” the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s top agency which handles its relationship with China, said in a statement it issued.