HONG KONG (AP) – Three prominent pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong were sentenced to jail on Wednesday for a protest outside 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. Sentenced to 13.5 months in prison after pleading guilty to organizing and participating in the June 21, 2019 demonstration outside Hong Kong Police Headquarters to protest the now withdrawn extradition bill and the use of force by the police against demonstrators.
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 that Beijing is violating the autonomy it promised when the former British colony was returned to China in 1997. It also triggered warnings that the ruling Communist Party is undermining the lure. of Hong Kong as a global business center and one of the most dynamic cities.
Other democracy advocates, including media mogul Jimmy Lai, have also been arrested under the security law.
The imprisonment of Wong, Chow and Lam drew a rebuke from the last British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, who said in a statement that it was “another grim example of China’s determination to put Hong Kong under handcuffs ”.
Amnesty International said the three “must be released immediately and unconditionally”.
“Once again, the government has used the politically motivated ‘incitement to protest’ charge to prosecute those who simply spoke and demonstrated peacefully,” said the group’s Asia-Pacific regional director 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.
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[This article may have been written with information from various sources.]