China jails activist for 2nd time over 2014 pro-democracy protests

Raphael Wong Leung Kwok-hung and Avery Ng

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was jailed for the second time yesterday for his role in mass pro-democracy protests as concern grows that prison terms for young campaigners are shutting down debate in the semi-autonomous city as Beijing increases control.

Ahead of the hearing, Joshua Wong - who became the teenage face of the Umbrella Movement - said he had "no regrets" about his involvement.

"They can lock up our bodies, but they can't lock up our minds", he told reporters before the sentencing hearing.

Wong had pleaded guilty previous year for failing to comply with a court order to clear out of a protest camp during the 79-day gathering in the semiautonomous Chinese city.

Mr Wong and 19 other demonstrators were found guilty of criminal contempt because they refused to obey a court injunction to leave a protest zone that was blocking a main road in late November 2014.

"The sentences will have a chilling effect particularly on young people who want to play a more active role in ushering in real democracy in Hong Kong", says Willie Lam, Adjunct Professor of China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was bailed pending appeal, and awaits a decision on that verdict.

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League of Social Democrats activist Figo Chan visited Raphael Wong at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre and said both he, and Joshua Wong, appeared to be well.

Another activist, Raphael Wong, was handed a four-month sentence over the same incident. "Our determination to fight for genuine universal suffrage will not waver".

In the ruling, Chief Justice Andrew Chan said although Wong had only been at the protest camp for a short time, his involvement in obstructing the clearance operation was "deep and extensive". Joshua Wong's Demosisto colleague Agnes Chow will contest the Hogn Kong Island seat.

The High Court also gave suspended sentences of 12 or 18 months to 14 others, some of whom such as Lester Shum were also fined between HK$10,000 (around US$1,280) and HK$15,000.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 amid promises that the Asian financial hub would enjoy a high degree of autonomy under a so-called "one country, two systems" arrangement.

He is already on bail pending an appeal over a six-month sentence for another protest-related offence.

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