Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam jailed

Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were on Wednesday sentenced to jail on charges related to an unauthorised anti-government protest last year at the city’s police headquarters.

Joshua Wong, who pleaded guilty to organiSing and participating in the protest, received 13 and half months behind bars, while Chow, who also pleaded guilty to participating in the protest and inciting others to take part, received 10 months, and Lam received 7 months after pleading guilty to incitement, according to a report by news agency AP.

The protest that took place on June 21 last year saw thousands surround the police headquarters in Hong Kong as they demonstrated against excessive force by police against protesters, as well as a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were members of the now-defunct political group ‘Demosisto’. It is the first time that 23-year-old Chow has been given a jail sentence. Wong (24) and Lam (26) had previously been jailed over charges related to their activism.

Their jailing comes as Beijing tightens control over the semi-autonomous city following months of anti-government protests last year, which occasionally saw violent clashes between protesters and police.

Between June 2019 and October this year, over 10,000 people have been arrested on protest-related charges. In June, Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong to crackdown on dissent, and outspoken pro-democracy advocates such as media tycoon Jimmy Lai and Chow have been arrested under the law.

The jailing of Wong, Chow and Lam drew rebuke from Amnesty International, which said they “must be released immediately and unconditionally.” “Once again, the government has used the politically motivated charge of ‘inciting others to protest’ to prosecute people who have merely spoken out and protested peacefully,” AP quoted the group’s Asia-Pacific regional director, Yamini Mishra, as saying.

“By targeting well-known activists from Hong Kong’s largely leaderless protest movement, authorities are sending a warning to anyone who dares openly criticize the government that they could be next.”

(With inputs from AP)

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