Joshua Wong: Hong Kong protest leaders avoid jail time for illegal rally
Hong Kong – Joshua Wong given community service and two of his fellow activists also avoided prison sentences.
Three leaders of Hong Kong’s ” Umbrella Revolution” have escaped a jail sentence despite criminal charges over their role in 2014 pro-democracy protests. Tensions have remained high since the rallies ended without concessions from Beijing on political reform in the former British territory.
The Hong Kong student campaigners – Joshua Wong (pictured), Nathan Law and Alex Chow – were charged for leading a protest in September 2014 which saw students climb over a fence into Hong Kong’s government complex, known as Civic Square.
But Magistrate June Cheung said she felt court-ordered community service would be more appropriate than prison for their convictions of unlawful assembly.
“The court believes the case is different from an ordinary criminal case. I accept they were genuinely expressing their views,” she said in sentencing at Eastern Magistrates’ Court.
The defendants praised the judge’s relative leniency.
“The court has taken the view that the Umbrella Movement and entering Civic Square was not for personal gain but public good,” Wong said.
The trio was among dozens of other young activists who were detained by police during rallies in 2014. Their detention led to subsequent civil disobedience. Police responded with dozens of volleys of teargas, a move that backfired and drove even more people on to the streets, kickstarting what became known as the Umbrella Movement protests.
The sentences meted out Monday in Hong Kong stand in stark contrast to the crackdown on lawyers and activists in mainland China. Earlier this month several high-profile legal advocates from Beijing were sentenced in restricted trials by a court in the provincial city of Tianjin.
Jeffrey S. Overstreet