Hong Kong Politics & Protest

London School of Economics pledges support for jailed Hong Kong activist Alex Chow, as 36 scholars call for his release

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has said it has sought reassurances over the wellbeing of jailed Hong Kong activist Alex Chow, who studied at the university. It said it will provide support to ensure Chow can complete his studies at LSE as soon as he is able to.

Meanwhile, 36 scholars and university teachers have signed an open letter demanding his immediate release.

Chow was jailed on August 17 – along with fellow activists Joshua Wong and Nathan Law – over their involvement in the Civic Square clash which sparked the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.

Alex Chow

Alex Chow. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

He was given a suspended jail term last year for his unlawful assembly conviction so that he could study at the LSE for a masters’ degree in city design and social science, instead of community service orders like those for Wong and Law. But the Department of Justice applied for a sentence review, in which the court decided to sentence Chow to seven months behind bars.

The LSE’s School Management Committee had met to discuss the matter after a number of concerns raised by staff and students. 

See also: Hong Kong democracy activist Alex Chow files appeal over jail sentence

“Alex has made a highly positive contribution as a student during his time at LSE and is very well regarded by professors and fellow students,” the Committee said in its statement. “We are naturally concerned for him and have contacted the UK Government and the Hong Kong authorities to understand his situation and seek reassurances over his wellbeing. We will provide all the support we can to ensure he can complete his studies at LSE as soon as he is able to.”

London School of Economics and Political Science

London School of Economics and Political Science. Photo: LSE.ac.uk.

Also this week, a group of academics from across the world called for the release of Chow, Wong and Law, in an open letter aquired by HKFP. They said the trio had already served their sentences.

“These punishments constitute an infringement of the rights to free assembly, free expression, and free association. As such, and in violating the legal norm that no one should be subjected to double jeopardy for the same offence, these sentences contravene the Basic Law of Hong Kong, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the principle of the rule of law.”

The letter called for their immediate release.

Read the open letter in full

As members of the global community of scholars and university teachers, we are disturbed to learn that Alex Chow, an MSc student from the London School of Economics and Political Science and incoming PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, has received a seven-month prison sentence in Hong Kong with immediate effect from the 17th of August. This punishment stems from the leading role that Mr Chow, along with Joshua Wong and Nathan Law, played within Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, which in 2014 organised a peaceful demonstration. Mr Chow, Mr Wong and Mr Law have already served the sentences that were imposed on them following the 2014 demonstration. But this year, the case was reopened and harsh extra penalties were applied.

These punishments constitute an infringement of the rights to free assembly, free expression, and free association. As such, and in violating the legal norm that no one should be subjected to double jeopardy for the same offence, these sentences contravene the Basic Law of Hong Kong, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the principle of the rule of law.

We stand in solidarity with these citizen activists, and we call for their immediate release. We urge the governments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and of the People’s Republic of China to respect the rule of law and political rights in Hong Kong.

  1. Professor Ash Amin, University of Cambridge
  2. Professor Rowland Atkinson, University of Sheffield
  3. Professor Les Back, Goldsmiths, University of London
  4. Dr Michaela Benson, Goldsmiths, University of London
  5. Professor Gurminder Bhambra, University of Sussex
  6. Professor Talja Blokland, Humboldt University
  7. Professor Neil Brenner, Harvard University
  8. Professor Craig Calhoun, Berggruen Institute
  9. Professor Jean Comaroff, Harvard University
  10. Dr Ayça Çubukçu, LSE
  11. Professor Gerald Frug, Harvard University
  12. Professor Alejandro de la Fuente, Harvard University
  13. Professor Paul Gilroy, King’s College London
  14. Professor David Graeber, LSE
  15. Dr Suzanne Hall, LSE
  16. Professor Christine Hentschel, University of Hamburg
  17. Dr Emma Jackson, Goldsmiths, University of London
  18. Professor Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard University
  19. Professor Michèle Lamont, Harvard University
  20. Professor Patrick Le Galès, Sciences Po
  21. Dr David Madden, LSE
  22. Professor Gordon Mathews, Chinese University of Hong Kong
  23. Professor Meaghan Morris, University of Sydney
  24. Professor Kate Nash, Goldsmiths, University of London
  25. Professor Sue Parnell, University of Cape Town
  26. Professor Ananya Roy, University of California, Los Angeles
  27. Professor Saskia Sassen, Columbia University
  28. Professor Mike Savage, LSE
  29. Professor Nathan Sayre, University of California, Berkeley
  30. Professor Richard Sennett, New York University
  31. Professor AbdouMaliq Simone, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity
  32. Dr Hyun Bang Shin, LSE
  33. Professor Fran Tonkiss, LSE
  34. Professor Vanessa Watson, University of Cape Town
  35. Dr Amanda Wise, Macquarie University
  36. Professor Krzysztof Wodiczko, Harvard University

Chow was due to start a PhD programme in geography at the University of California, Berkeley but he was unable to attend.

The trio have all filed appeals.

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London School of Economics pledges support for jailed Hong Kong activist Alex Chow, as 36 scholars call for his release