Former student leader Joshua Wong and two other young activists, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, were held in pre-trial detention in Hong Kong on Monday awaiting sentencing on December 2. At a hearing in the West Kowloon District District Courts, the three had pleaded guilty to charges related to the siege of the city's central police station during mass protests last year.
In principle, the appointment in court this Thursday was to begin a six-day trial against Wong and Lam for their role in the siege of the police headquarters on June 21 of last year. But unexpectedly, the two activists, who until now had upheld their innocence, pleaded guilty, as Chow had previously done, to charges of incitement and participation in unauthorized assembly.
Specifically, Wong pleaded guilty to the charges of organizing an unauthorized gathering and inciting others to participate, for which he can receive a sentence of up to three years in prison. He did deny the charge of participating in an unauthorized meeting, on which the prosecutors had not provided evidence. For his part, Lam pleaded guilty to one count of incitement.
"Perhaps the authorities want to keep me in prison one sentence after another," said Wong, 23, before the hearing began. “I am convinced that neither prison cells, nor electoral vetoes, nor any other arbitrary measure will make us stop activism. What we do is explain to the world the value of freedom ”.
Lam, in turn, declared that "if fencing off the central police station is a crime or a necessary act in the fight for democracy, I think Hong Kongers are very clear about it."
Wong is one of the most famous activists in Hong Kong since he led protests by high school students in 2013 against the imposition of a “patriotic” curriculum in the autonomous territory, and a year later he was one of the leaders of the Movement de los Paraguas, the massive sit-ins to demand democratic reforms that paralyzed the city center for three months. The young politician later founded the Demosisto party to demand more freedoms in the enclave, which he ended up dissolving on June 30, when the new National Security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong came into force.
Although Wong was not part of the leadership of the protests last year, he did support them. He had been serving a five-week prison sentence for contempt and when he was released on June 16, 2019, the demonstrations were already in full swing.
This summer, the Hong Kong authorities, with the backing of Beijing, denied him authorization to stand as a candidate in the legislative elections that were to have been held this September and in which the opposition aspired to win the majority for the first time in the history of the enclave. Those elections were finally postponed for a year due to the covid pandemic, a delay that the opposition attributes to political reasons.
Wong, one of Beijing's most detested activists, is also facing illegal assembly participation charges related to holding a protest in October last year and the memorial vigil for the victims of the Tiananmen massacre on June 4. year.