HONG KONG (AP) – Three prominent pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong were sentenced to prison on Wednesday for a protest outside the police headquarters as authorities intensified a crackdown on the opposition to tighten Beijing’s control over the territory.
The activists – Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam – are among more than 10,000 people arrested since June 2019 on charges linked to protests against an extradition bill that has expanded to include demands for more great democracy.
Beijing responded to the protests by imposing a sweeping national security law to quell dissent, which sparked more public opposition.
Wong, 24, is known abroad for his role as the student leader of the 2014 “Umbrella Revolution” protests in Hong Kong. He was sentenced to 13 and a half months in prison after pleading guilty to organizing and participating in the June 21, 2019 protest outside the Hong Kong Police Headquarters over the Extradition Bill and the extradition bill. use of force by police against protesters.
Chow was sentenced to 10 months by West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts after pleading guilty to participating and inciting other protesters. Lam pleaded guilty to incitement and was sentenced to 7 months.
The crackdown has sparked accusations of violating the autonomy Beijing promised when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997. It also sparked warnings that the ruling Communist Party is undermining Hong Kong’s appeal as a global business center and one of the fastest growing cities in Asia. .
Other democracy advocates, including media mogul Jimmy Lai, have also been arrested under the security law.
The last British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, criticized the sentence, saying in a statement that it was “another grim example of China’s determination to put handcuffs on Hong Kong”.
Maria Adebahr, spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Berlin that the convictions were “another part of a series of worrying developments we have seen in relation to human and civil rights in Hong Kong. over the past year ”.
Amnesty International said the three “must be released immediately and unconditionally”.
“Once again, the government has used the politically motivated charge of ‘inciting others to protest’ to prosecute those who simply spoke out and demonstrated peacefully,” said Asia-Pacific regional director of the group, Yamini Mishra.
“By targeting well-known activists in Hong Kong’s largely leaderless protest movement, authorities are sending a warning to anyone who dares openly criticize the government that it could be next.
Associated Press editor Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin contributed to this report.