One of Hong Kong’s most prominent pro-democracy activists was sentenced on Wednesday to more than a year in jail for his role in an “unlawful” rally.
Joshua Wong, 24, was sentenced to 13 and a half months in Hong Kong jail after he pleaded guilty to organizing an “unlawful” anti-government assembly in June 2019, according to NBC News. The sentence comes as Hong Kong’s Beijing-supported government has ramped up a crackdown on pro-democracy leaders and activists.
“I know the coming days will be tougher,” Wong shouted after the sentence was announced in court, NBC News reported. “We will hang in there.”
“Ahead of us is another challenging battleground,” Wong said later in a statement through his lawyer, according to NBC News. “We’re now joining the battle in prison along with many brave protesters, less visible yet essential in the fight for democracy and freedom for Hong Kong.”
Wong’s sentencing was the toughest and highest-profile sentencing in Hong Kong of 2020, according to Reuters.
Wong was joined in court by fellow activists Agnes Chow, 23, and Ivan Lam, 26, who received sentences of 10 and seven months respectively for their roles in the same June 2019 protest, Reuters reported. Chow reportedly cried upon hearing the judge’s decision.
“Once again, the government has used the politically motivated charge of ‘inciting others to protest’ to prosecute people who have merely spoken out and protested peacefully,” Amnesty International Asia-Pacific Regional Director Yamini Mishra said in a statement Wednesday.
“By targeting well-known activists from Hong Kong’s largely leaderless protest movement, authorities are sending a warning to anyone who dares openly criticize the government that they could be next,” Mishra continued.
Tensions in Hong Kong ramped up in 2019 after Beijing proposed a law enabling the government to extradite Hong Kong citizens to mainland China. Hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong citizens participated in mass protests in response, which were some of the largest in Hong Kong history, according to The New York Times.
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