Hong Kong, Nov 23 (efe-epa).- Hong Kong activists, Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, have been placed in custody at a detention center in the city as they await sentencing by a local court on charges of “organizing an unauthorized assembly” in June 2019, sources from the now-defunct Demosisto political party confirmed to EFE.
The three accused, who testified on Monday at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts, have been remanded in custody at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre ahead of their sentencing on Dec. 2, in which they face up to five years in prison, Isaac Cheng Ka Long, former vice-chairman of the disbanded party, explained to EFE.
Wong announced on Twitter that the trio would plead guilty to inciting and organizing the unauthorized demonstration in question but not to “knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly.”
On Jun. 21, 2019, thousands of protesters, including Wong, took to the streets and surrounded the Hong Kong police headquarters to call for the withdrawal of the contentious extradition bill that sparked widespread protests in the city as well as an investigation into police action.
“Hold up everyone, add oil. We know it’s even tougher to remain outside. Please keep up the work,” Wong shouted before he was taken away from the court, according to the opposition newspaper Apple Daily.
For nearly an hour, the court played videos showing what transpired during the demonstration, with images of the defendants inciting protesters to surround the Hong Kong police headquarters, according to local media reports.
Ina statement shared on Facebook earlier, Wong said that “in the past 3 weeks, a total of 23 activists, journalists and councillors came under arrest. Everyday we have activists standing in trials, protestors sent to jail.”
“Some of them were tortured, forced into exile, or even took their own lives after chanting protest slogans. That is the reason why, ever since my first release from the prison, I have vowed to draw more public attention to prison justice, in particular those on political prisoners,” he added.
He also pointed out that “perhaps the authorities wish me to stay in prison one term after another. But I am persuaded that, neither prison bars, nor election ban, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism.”
In August, the Hong Kong police arrested activist Agnes Chow, known to be very close to Wong, on charges of conspiring with foreign forces to jeopardize national security – one of the crimes under China’s new national security law passed by the National People’s Congress.
In theory, the law aimed to defuse the largest crisis recently experienced in the financial hub following last year’s wave of protests that, on numerous occasions, ended up in serious violent incidents between police and radical protesters.
However, the legislation lays down punishments of up to life sentences for actions deemed to be separatist or collusion with foreign forces, generating much fear among many Hong Kong residents.
Since then, the police have carried out numerous raids and arrests of activists, some of whom have chosen to exiles themselves to try to avoid reprisals for activities that, under the new law, could be seen as a crime. EFE-EPA