Jailing of democracy activists attracts protests by thousands in Hong Kong

Jailed Hong Kong Democracy Leaders Should Be Source of Pride, Says Patten
Thousands protest in Hong Kong over jailing of pro-democracy activists

20 August, 2017

After three democracy activists were arrested and jailed, thousands of pro-democracy supporters took to the streets in protest in Hong Kong.

Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, leaders of the 2014 Umbrella Movement rallies, were sentenced to six to eight months in jail Thursday for their role in a protest that sparked the months-long demonstrations calling for democratic reforms.

Protesters during a mass rally in Hong Kong on Sunday to support jailed activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow.

According to Wong's lawyer, the trio will appeal their sentences to the Court of Final Appeal however they will begin serving their prison term immediately.

Wong became a prominent face of the student-led democracy movement when he was 17, demanding political freedom from China and suffrage.

"This shows that the Hong Kong government, the Chinese Communist regime and the Department of Justice's conspiracy to deter Hong Kong people from continuing to participate in politics and to protest using harsh laws and punishments has completely failed", Shum told Reuters news agency.

One of the protest organizers, Tong Hiu-yan, said the government was trying to threaten Hong Kong's democracy by the court ruling, but that protesters would stay determined.

They chanted "Release all political prisoners" while some carried a large banner reading: "It's not a crime to fight against totalitarianism". "We have no regrets".

A police officer watches protests in Hong Kong on Sunday.

Organisers gave no immediate estimate of numbers, while police said 22,000 attended the event at its peak, making it Hong Kong's biggest march since the Umbrella Movement rallies.

He had also spearheaded the "Umbrella Movement", gathering thousands of protestors and demanding democracy. "We're now standing together. It is a good start".

Despite sweltering heat, some protesters wore brown prison uniforms in homage to the trio of jailed campaigners and 13 other activists who were also imprisoned earlier in the week.

They were among a group of student protesters who scaled a fence around Hong Kong's legislative headquarters and occupied the building's courtyard.

The Court of Appeal's decision to jail Wong, Law and Chow marked a victory for the government, which had appealed to have tougher punishments imposed after a lower court previous year gave the trio community service or suspended jail terms.

Under a deal between Britain and China in 1997, Hong Kong was reunited with China, but it was decided that the territory should continue to enjoy its freedoms, including a separate legal system. But Beijing has ultimate control, and some Hong Kong people are concerned it is increasingly interfering to head off dissent.

Ray Chan, another pro-democracy legislator, said: "We want to let those who have been jailed and those who are facing political prosecution know that they are not alone". Hong Kong's affairs are an internal affair.

"I hope people will pay attention".

Another protester carried a placard of Lady Justice with a red blindfold.

In a statement following Saturday's march, the Hong Kong government reiterated that there was no political consideration in the court of appeal's ruling but said it was aware that members of the community had "different views on the judgment".

While the imposition of tougher sentences on the activists attracted widespread criticism in Hong Kong and overseas, the Hong Kong Bar Association and Law Society defended the court's decision.

More news