Activist Joshua Wong has been sentenced to a community service order of 80 hours at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court. Fellow activists Nathan Law Kwun-chung received a community service order of 120 hours, while Alex Chow Yong-kang was given a three week jail sentence with a one year suspension after the trio stormed Admiralty’s Civic Square in September 2014, kickstarting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Occupy protests.
The storming took place after a week of class boycotts against the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress’s decision that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive candidates must be vetted before a popular election. It led to dozens of arrests of protesters inside the square with police later using tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters. A 79-day protest occupying the main road around Hong Kong then ensued.
At the time, Wong was the convenor of student group Scholarism and Law was a member of the standing committee of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS). Wong and Law are now members of the political party Demosistō. Chow is a former secretary-general of HKFS.
Wong and Chow were found guilty in July of taking part in an unlawful assembly, while Law was found guilty of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly.
I was sentenced to 80 hours community service order by Hong Kong's Court.
— Joshua Wong Chi-fung (@joshuawongcf) August 15, 2016
‘Civil resistance tactics’
Speaking outside the court after their sentencing, Law said: “For us, we definitely respect the decisions of the court this time. And we have to say again, that we are not against the court’s problems, but against the selective persecution in the justice system… as well as the public order ordinance, which is suppressing our freedoms to assemble and protest.”
“We hope that more residents will know we are willing to use civil resistance tactics for higher ideals and for justice, to awaken more Hongkongers’ attention,” he later said.
Wong added that the three are currently thinking about whether to appeal, and will consult the opinions of their lawyers.
Chow was to receive an 80 hour community service sentence, according to Law. However, Chow was later given a suspended sentence as the Magistrate said that it would allow him to take a Master’s course in Sociology at the London School of Economics in the UK, as he had planned.
Wong said during a live Facebook broadcast on Sunday night that he was prepared for the worst case scenario, which was immediate imprisonment.
“The taking back of the Civic Square was planned by the the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism, and we knew what was going to happen before taking action. We were prepared to bear legal consequences after participating in civil resistance,” he said.
Law told his supporters via live broadcast on Sunday night not to worry, saying that a sentencing of more than three months, which would disqualify him from taking office as a lawmaker if he wins the election, was unlikely.
Law is one of the candidates running in the 2016 Legislative Council elections in September.
Wong said he was handing out pamphlets for the upcoming September elections on Monday morning before the trial.