16 November 2018
A police van carrying the three young activists leaves the High Court after the sentencing. Photo: HKEJ
A police van carrying the three young activists leaves the High Court after the sentencing. Photo: HKEJ

Democrats accuse govt of repression over jailing of activists

Pan-democrats slammed the government over the jailing of three young activists, calling it political repression, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Overturning a lower court’s ruling, the Court of Appeal on Thursday sentenced Joshua Wong to six months in prison, Nathan Law to eight months and Alex Chow to seven months after they were found guilty of taking part in an unlawful assembly and leading students to storm a barricaded area outside government headquarters in September 2014.

The Department of Justice had sought a harsher punishment for the trio. Wong and Law had been originally sentenced to community service while Chow received a three-week suspended jail sentence. 

But the Department of Justice, arguing the punishment was not enough deterrent, filed for a review of the sentence by the appellate court.

In a statement, the Civic Party criticized the government for introducing aggravated punishment for protesters, which it said does not help fix social rifts.

It demanded that the government stop political persecution of pro-democracy protesters and pledged to continue its non-violent fight for democracy and freedom.

Avery Ng Man-yuen, chairman of the League of Social Democrats, said the ruling suggests taking to the streets is the only option left for people who do not want to live against their own conscience, Apple Daily reported.

The Democratic Party said it was disappointed, sad and angry about the appellate court’s decision, describing it as a shameful, double-faced tactic and urging citizens to stay together and never give up.

As of 10 p.m. Thursday, an online campaign in support of the jailed activists had gathered more than 300 signatures. Organizers lashed out at the government for creating fear to deter people from fighting for their rights.

Britain’s Foreign Office said in a statement that the trio’s jailing is a blow to Hongkongers’ fight for democracy. 

Meanwhile, Starry Lee, chairperson of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and executive councilor Regina Ip, who leads the New People’s Party, said the appellate court’s ruling was appropriate, adding no law-breaking act can be justified by any reason.

The League of Social Democrats called on people to gather outside the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, where Law and Chow are being held, to show their support on Friday night and participate in a street protest set for Sunday on Hong Kong Island.

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Pro-democracy activists Nathan Law, Joshua Wong and Alex Chow (from left), who were sentenced to eight, six and seven months, respectively, speak to supporters before Thursday’s ruling. Photo: HKEJ

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