By: Brian Kim
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
HONG KONG – On August 17, 2017, three Hong Kong activists were sentenced to prison. Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow led a pro-democracy protest in 2014. The three were among a group of students who occupied Hong Kong’s legislative headquarters in 2014. The forcible removal of these students from the premise angered the public.
After the incident, the activists were convicted of unlawful assembly.
They were originally sentenced to community service and a suspended jail term, but in a rare move by the Hong Kong government, an appeal was filed to reconsider their “lenient” sentences.
A Hong Kong court recently sentenced Joshua Wong to six months in prison, Law was sentenced to eight months, and Chow was sentenced to seven months. In Hong Kong, one is ineligible to run for local elections for the following five years if they were sentenced to more than three months in jail.
After the ruling, Amnesty International referred to the appeal for jail terms as a “vindictive attack” on freedom of expression. Many other organizations have condemned the authorities.
However, the government stated that “there is absolutely no basis to imply any political motive.” The authorities went further by stating that freedom of speech is guaranteed in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule under a “one country, two systems” principle. Although this governing principle assured a degree of autonomy, the public has been skeptical as the Chinese government has been asserting their power.
For example, the Chinese government removed seven dissident lawmakers from Hong Kong’s citywide elections last year. Nathan Law, who was the youngest-ever legislator, was removed last month.
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