Wong, 23, is one of the most prominent figures in the pro-democracy movement that drew mass protests to the streets of Hong Kong for much of 2019, before the pandemic and then draconian laws on national security does not terminate this year.
Posts on Wong’s official social media accounts said Thursday afternoon that he was arrested for participating in an unauthorized assembly on October 5, 2019.
“He would have violated the draconian anti-mask law, which had previously been deemed partially unconstitutional by the court of appeal,” the message read.
Wong was released on bail hours later and told media the international community should focus less on prominent activists like him and demand the release of the 12 Hong Kong people detained in mainland China after allegedly trying to flee Hong Kong to Taiwan by ship.
In August, Wong was among 24 people arrested for attending a candlelight vigil for the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
It was also confirmed to The Guardian that Koo Sze-yiu was arrested earlier Thursday, for allegedly participating in an unauthorized protest. Koo, 74, is being treated for advanced cancer and had a medical appointment scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Koo was last sentenced to six weeks in June for desecrating the Hong Kong flag, local media reported at the time.
The rally on October 5 brought together thousands of people, including Wong. This was in part prompted by an announcement earlier today that CEO Carrie Lam would invoke emergency regulations to pass a law banning the wearing of masks, which protesters frequently used to protect their identities or to protect themselves. protect police crowd control tactics. Analysts said it marked the start of authoritarian rule in Hong Kong, and thousands took to the streets to protest during a night that descended into violence, with tear gas being deployed by police and fires started by demonstrators in two metro stations.
An appeal against the mask law was taken to Hong Kong’s highest court in April, which ruled it partially unconstitutional.
The court found that Hong Kong’s managing director could use colonial-era regulations to issue emergency public safety orders, and that the mask ban was constitutional – but only during illegal gatherings. She concluded that banning masks at legal gatherings and allowing police to demand their removal was unconstitutional.
The amended anti-mask law remains active despite a competing legal requirement that all people must wear masks in public due to the pandemic.
A US-based activist and friend of Wong’s, Jeffrey Ngo, said Wong showed up to the police station twice a week while on bail for another case related to the protest.
“It was there that he was arrested earlier for participating in an unauthorized rally and violating anti-mask law,” Ngo said on Twitter.
“The government creates the illusion of relative normalcy – through a week or two of relative tranquility at a time – to let their guard down. Then they tweet… you with sudden repressions.
Wong’s co-founders of the now dissolved political party, Demosisto, were also targeted. Agnes Chow was arrested last month under the new National Security Act and Nathan Law fled to the UK.
Johnny Patterson, Director of Hong Kong Watch, said: “The arrest of Joshua Wong is the latest example of blatant political prosecution in Hong Kong. Beijing and their Hong Kong government counterparts are waging a law campaign, abusing the courts to silence their political opponents and create an atmosphere of self-censorship.
Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said the arrest was an indictment of Hong Kong’s legal and political systems.
Wong’s case is due to be mentioned to the Eastern District Magistrates’ Court on Monday.
Hong Kong Police have been contacted for comment.