Hong Kong’s most famous pro-democracy activist is heading back to prison.
Joshua Wong was jailed Wednesday for three months by Hong Kong’s high court for an offense stemming from the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests which shut down parts of the city, including the main financial district, for several months.
The sentence for contempt of court, after Wong and other demonstrators ignored an order to vacate a protest site, is the second time he has been jailed in the past year.
Wong, along with fellow protest leaders Nathan Law and Alex Chow, is continuing to appeal another sentence he received in August which had originally seen him jailed for six to eight months for offenses also related to the 2014 mass pro-democracy street protests. The Court of Final Appeal heard arguments Tuesday in that case but has reserved judgment to a later date.
The young activist – who appeared in a Netflix documentary about him and the city’s protest movement – was out on bail while that appeal was pending, but Wednesday’s decision sent him back to jail, along with fellow protest leader Raphael Wong, who was jailed for four and a half months.
‘Slow drip’ of prosecutions
Joshua Wong’s court cases this week are among dozens brought against protesters and pro-democracy politicians since the 2014 demonstrations, which analysts say are designed to sap morale and dissuade other young people from taking to the streets.
Antony Dapiran, a Hong Kong lawyer and author of “City of Protest,” told CNN late last year the “incessant slow drip of legal action over the course of this year has been … effective in keeping pressure on activists who do not know what and when the next government action will be, and (that is) therefore having a stifling effect on their activities.”
A spokesman for Hong Kong’s Department of Justice (DOJ) said “allegations of political prosecution or persecution are entirely unfounded,” adding the DOJ is “committed to safeguarding the rule of law and judicial independence in Hong Kong, as well as keeping criminal prosecutions free from any interference.”
A key test for the pro-democracy campaign, and its support within the city, will come in March when by-elections are due to be held to fill the seats of four lawmakers controversially disqualified from the city’s legislature.
This week, the camp put forward four candidates after primaries were held across the city, including Agnes Chow, a former Umbrella protester and representative of Wong and Law’s political party Demosisto. If elected, 21-year-old Chow would become the city’s youngest ever lawmaker, a designation previously held by Law.
On Twitter, Wong said he would vote in upcoming by-elections “from jail” and urged the city’s pro democracy movement to unite in the face of increased pressure from Beijing and the local government.