Hong Kong, November 23 (ANI): Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong on Monday has been remanded in custody after pleading guilty to two charges related to a protest last year, the sentencing will be pronounced on December 2.
This comes after a number of former pro-democracy lawmakers have been arrested in the month of October over protests after the draconian national security law was imposed on the city by Beijing. The law criminalizes secession, subversion and collusion with foreign forces and carries with it strict prison terms. It came into effect from July 1.
He was arrested for participating in an 'unauthorised' assembly in October last year.
The protests have largely been eclipsed politically, however,Wong faces up to three years in prison according to his lawyer and was charged alongside two other activists, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, for what prosecutors said was their role in inciting, organising and knowingly taking part in the unauthorised assembly, which took place on June 21 last year, CNN reported.
During a court hearing, Wong pleaded guilty to two charges relating to inciting and organizing the protest. The prosecution offered no evidence for the third charge in relation to his participation in the protest.
Lam reportedly pleaded guilty to incitement, while Chow had pleaded guilty to incitement and participation in the unauthorised demonstration.
"Would not be surprising" if the court had him detained, but said "neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us," CNN quoted, Wong, saying.
"Perhaps the authorities wish me to stay in prison one term after another," he added.
"What we are doing now is to explain the value of freedom to the world, through our compassion to whom we love, so much that we are willing to sacrifice the freedom of our own," Wong added.
Wong disbanded his pro-democracy group Demosisto in June, just hours after China's parliament passed national security law for Hong Kong, bypassing the city's local legislature.
The law barred Wong and a number of other candidates from standing for elections that were due to be held in September but were postponed due to the coronavirus. Several of those disqualified were sitting lawmakers, who were subsequently ejected from the parliament by Beijing overruling constitutional precedent and bypassing Hong Kong's courts on November 11, sparking the mass resignation of the entire pro-democratic camp.
The move came the same week as the US State Department sanctioned a number of top Chinese officials in Hong Kong for "threatening the peace, security, and autonomy" of the city, a move the local government described as "barbaric interference."Other countries have also criticized China, with the European Council saying the move to disqualify opposition lawmakers constituted a "further severe blow" to freedom of opinion in the city and "significantly undermines Hong Kong's autonomy."A former independence activist, Tony Chung, was also arrested after allegedly attempting to claim asylum at the US consulate to Hong Kong, along with several others.
This summer, a dozen Hong Kongers were arrested by the Chinese coast guard en route to Taiwan, all are now detained on the mainland and facing a raft of charges, CNN further reported.
"I wish to pay tributes to our fellow activists who are about to face trials and prison, or to whom in distress for not being able to return home: We're not fearless, but you are the braver ones," Wong said in a statement Monday following his conviction.
Ahead of this week's trial, Chow said that "if I am sentenced to prison this time, it will be the first time in my life that I am mentally prepared, but I am still a little afraid."Taking to Twitter, he said, "Comparing to remanded, save12hkyouths in China deserves more of our attention. Today marks the 93rd day of their detention. Their families finally received letters from the dozen, signifying that they are still alive. SAVE12 campaign managed pressure China.""Under NationalSecurityLaw in HongKong, now even flying balloons is a crime,", he added in a tweet.(ANI)