Three activists ready for jail time

August 17, 2017 13:41
Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow (from left) appear before the court in August 2016. The New York Times (inset) said Hong Kong will see a watershed once the trio become political prisoners. Photo: HKEJ/New York Times website screenshot

Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Alex Chow Yong-kang and Nathan Law Kwun-chung, the three former student leaders who were found guilty in July last year of taking part in an unlawful assembly in 2014, said they are prepared to go to jail when the Court of Appeal gives its ruling on Thursday.

The trio stormed a barricaded area outside government headquarters on Sept. 26, 2014, a few days before the Occupy protests began.

Wong and Law were ordered to 80 and 120 hours of community service, respectively, by an Eastern magistrates’ court while Chow received a three-week jail sentence suspended for one year.

But the Department of Justice (DOJ) considered the punishment inadequate and filed an application for a judicial review to the appellate court.

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal overturned a lower court’s ruling of community service and sentenced 13 activists, who stormed the Legislative Council in 2014 to protest against a controversial northeast New Territories development proposal, to between eight and 13 months in jail after the DOJ appealed.

Wong, convenor and founder of the defunct student activist group Scholarism, told a radio program on Wednesday that he expects to get the same sentence as the 13 protesters, although he did not see their jail sentences coming, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Wong said more young people are likely to be jailed in the future and the public should adapt to the fact the Hong Kong's judicial system has changed.

Law said in a social media post that he is prepared to go for broke after he was stripped of his seat in the Legislative Council last month. 

Meanwhile, Chow told friends in an online post to attend the court Thursday as they may not see each other for months.

Wong, Law and Chow showed up at a rally for them and the 13 jailed protesters outside Civic Square on Wednesday night.

Wong called on his supporters not to give up while he serves time in jail, and Law urged people to march on the streets while they still enjoy freedom.

In a commentary on Tuesday (US time), the New York Times said Hong Kong will see a watershed in its modern history once the trio become the first batch of political prisoners. 

Sentencing them to jail means Beijing has no intention to fulfill its promises of giving Hong Kong freedom of speech and freedom of peaceful assembly as courts in Hong Kong have become tools by Beijing, the commentary said, adding that whether young activists like them can gain support from western countries remains to be seen.

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