Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow Are Sentenced Over Hong Kong Protest

HONG KONG — Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy figure, was sentenced to 13 and a half months in prison, while the fellow activist Agnes Chow received 10 months over a protest in Hong Kong last year, the latest blow to the political opposition in the Chinese city.

Ivan Lam, a third member of their disbanded political group, Demosisto, was sentenced to seven months. While awaiting sentencing, all three were imprisoned last week after pleading guilty to unauthorized assembly charges over a June 2019 demonstration, when thousands of people gathered outside Police Headquarters in the early days of the mass protest movement that engulfed the city. They had faced up to three years in prison.

Demosisto disbanded shortly after China imposed a far-reaching national security law on Hong Kong this summer. The authorities have since carried out an increasingly aggressive crackdown on dissent, arresting activists, journalists and politicians. Four lawmakers were also removed from office last month, prompting the mass resignation of the pro-democracy camp from the local legislature.

Mr. Wong, 24, became a galvanizing force for rallying huge protests against limits on direct elections in 2014, in what was known as the Umbrella Movement. Ms. Chow, 23, who has been called the “Mulan” of the Hong Kong democracy movement, has a wide following in Japan thanks to her Japanese-language skills.

Mr. Lam, 26, co-founded the activist group Scholarism with Mr. Wong in 2011. The group, which Ms. Chow joined a year later, led protests against a plan to introduce a national education curriculum in Hong Kong schools, which they deemed “brainwashing.” Mr. Lam was later imprisoned for breaking into the legislature during a 2014 protest against a development plan.

After he was jailed last week, Mr. Wong spent three days in solitary confinement because a scan had suggested he might have ingested a foreign object before his detention. During that period, he had difficulty sleeping because his cell lights were left on 24 hours a day and he was subjected to regular medical checks, said Fernando Cheung, a former lawmaker who met with Mr. Wong on Saturday. No foreign object was found, Mr. Cheung added.

Mr. Wong was sentenced to three months in prison in 2018 for contempt over the court-ordered dismantling of a protest camp in November 2014. He was released on bail after six days pending an appeal, then returned to complete a shortened, two-month sentence in May 2019.

He also served 69 days of a six-month sentence on unlawful assembly charges before he was released and the sentence was thrown out by Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal in 2018.

Ms. Chow, who had not previously been imprisoned, said she was not adjusting well to conditions in detention and was unable to sleep at night, according to a message relayed to friends who had visited her in jail and posted to her Facebook account on Sunday.

“I understand that I will probably be sentenced to prison on Wednesday, so my morale has been low, and I’ve been very worried,” she was quoted as saying.

Ms. Chow was arrested earlier this year on suspicion of violating the new national security law by inciting secession. But she has not been charged in that case.

Mr. Cheung said that Mr. Wong had found one positive thing about returning to detention: He no longer had to face constant questions about what was next for Hong Kong’s besieged democracy movement.

“He doesn’t have to deal with that for now,” Mr. Cheung said. “People understand that he’s incapable of doing much in prison. The burden is now on people on the outside.”

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