Conflicts & War

Joshua Wong pleads guilty to Hong Kong anti-mask protest charges

By Shirley Lau

Hong Kong, Jan 29 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, currently in jail, appeared in a court Friday and pleaded guilty to charges related to a street protest held during the height of the city’s pro-democracy movement in 2019.

The 24-year-old, and renowned activist Koo Sze-yiu, 74, were accused of taking part in an illegal assembly on Oct. 5, 2019, protesting the Hong Kong authorities’ controversial move to ban people wearing face masks during public assemblies.

Wong was also charged for violating the anti-mask law. He pleaded guilty to both charges while Koo pleaded not guilty to the illegal assembly charge at Eastern Court.

The anti-mask law was enacted at a time when Hong Kong was rocked by a months-long, sometimes violent anti-government protest movement. It was common practice for participants in the movement to cover their faces with masks to avoid being identified by police.

Hours after the ban took effect, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the law. Many were defiant and donned face masks.

Koo, who has stage four rectal cancer, will be tried on Mar. 23, and sentencing on Wong will be announced after Koo’s two-day trial is completed.

Leaving court, Wong shouted “good health to all in the Chinese New Year” and Koo was heard saying: “End the one-party dictatorship, down with the communists!”

In December 2020, Wong was sentenced to 13 and a half months in prison for his involvement in another unauthorized protest in June 2019. Fellow activists Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam respectively received a 10 and seven month sentence in the same court case. EFE-EPA


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