A teenager who led a massive pro-democracy street protest in Hong Kong has been found guilty of taking part in an illegal rally. Bespectacled student Joshua Wong, who became the unlikely fulcrum of the demonstrations two years ago, could be jailed for up to two years following the verdict. The 19-year-old, who claims the various protest-related cases against him amount to political persecution, said he might need to go to jail to further his campaign for democracy. Rights group Amnesty International described cases against peaceful protesters as intimidation in the wake of the verdict.
We might need to go into prison. However, no matter what is the penalty or the price that we need to pay, we will still continue to fight against suppression from the government.
Wong was convicted after he and others climbed over a fence into a government complex forecourt known as Civic Square on September 26, 2014. Their action triggered wider rallies that exploded two days later when police fired tear gas to disperse crowds. Fellow student leaders Alex Chow and Nathan Law were also convicted over the same protest. The three defendants, who smiled in resignation at the verdict, were released on bail and are due back in court on August 15 for sentencing. “We know facing the largest communist regime in the world is a long-term battle for us to fight for democracy,” said Wong.
The Hong Kong authorities’ prosecution of three pro-democracy student leaders sends a chilling warning for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the city