HK activist Joshua Wong arrested again, vows to fight on
Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaks to the media while holding up a bail document after leaving Central police station in Hong Kong on September 24, 2020, after being arrested for unlawful assembly related to a 2019 protest against a government ban on face masks.
AFP/Isaac Lawrence
HK activist Joshua Wong arrested again, vows to fight on
Yan Zhao (Agence France-Presse) - September 25, 2020 - 7:42am

HONG KONG, China — Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was arrested Thursday for taking part in a protest at the height of the city's pro-democracy unrest last year, but he vowed to continue resisting China’s crackdown on dissent.

The arrest of the territory's most high-profile dissident is the latest in a string of arrests of government critics and comes after China imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong in late June.

Wong was arrested for "unlawful assembly" over a 2019 demonstration against a government ban on face masks that was imposed before the coronavirus pandemic, his lawyer said.

Later Thursday the European Union criticised the move, saying it was "the latest in a troubling series of arrests of pro-democracy activists since the summer".

Wong, 23, who now faces three separate court cases, said after being bailed that he was also held for violating the "draconian" anti-mask law, which has since been ruled unconstitutional.

Wong's lawyer told AFP he was re-arrested when he reported to a police station concerning another case currently being tried.

"Wong is accused of participating in an unlawful assembly on October 5 last year, when hundreds marched to oppose an anti-mask ban the government rolled out," lawyer Jonathan Man said.

A police spokesman confirmed a 23-year-old was arrested for "knowingly participating in unauthorised assembly" while violating the mask ban.

Wong told reporters after he was bailed: "No matter what happens, I will continue to resist and hope to let the world to know that how Hong Kongers choose not to surrender."

At the time of the October 5 march, Hong Kong had already been battered by four months of increasingly violent pro-democracy protests.

The city had ground to a halt following a night of chaos in which hardcore protesters trashed dozens of subway stations, vandalised shops with mainland China ties, built fires and blocked roads. 

Hundreds of protesters, almost all masked, staged the unsanctioned demonstration through the popular shopping district of Causeway Bay, a day after the city's leader Carrie Lam outlawed face coverings by invoking colonial-era emergency powers not used for half a century.

Under Hong Kong's current anti-virus measures, face masks are now mandatory in all public places.

Jailed twice

China's security law, which was imposed in late June, was designed to stamp out the demonstrations and targets acts deemed to be secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion. 

Beijing has described it as a "sword" hanging over the heads of its opponents as it pushes to return stability. Critics say it has blanketed the city in fear, and UN rights experts warned its broad wording posed a serious risk to Hong Kong's freedoms.

Wong — who spent most of his teenage years leading protests and has twice been jailed — recently told AFP he constantly wonders how long it will be before the police's new national security unit comes for him.

The security law has already swept up two of his closest comrades.

Fellow former student leader Nathan Law has fled to Britain and is now wanted for national security crimes, according to Chinese state media. 

Agnes Chow — who has led protests alongside Wong since they were just 15 — is one of 22 people arrested under the new law so far. She has been released on bail.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 16, 2020 - 7:00pm

Millions march in Hong Kong in a powerful rebuke of an extradition law feared to expose them to China's capricious justice system.

October 16, 2020 - 7:00pm

A top Chinese diplomat warns Canada against granting asylum to Hong Kong democracy protesters, adding that doing so could jeopardize the "health and safety" of Canadians living in the southern Chinese financial hub.

The remarks by Cong Peiwu, Beijing's Ottawa envoy, prompted a rebuke from Canada's foreign minister, further escalating tensions between the two countries.

Cong was responding to reports that a Hong Kong couple who took part in last year's huge and sometimes violent protests had been granted refugee status. — AFP

October 1, 2020 - 4:23pm

Hong Kong's leader Thursday hailed her city's "return to peace" after China imposed a security law that helped suppress a pro-democracy movement, as just a handful of people defied a heavy police presence and protested during National Day celebrations.

The People's Republic of China celebrates its founding on October 1 with a holiday and carefully choreographed festivities.

But in Hong Kong, it has become a day of grievance for those worried about authoritarian Beijing's intensifying crackdown against its opponents.

Protest has been effectively outlawed for most of this year and Beijing also imposed a strict national security law on the semi-autonomous business hub in June. — AFP

September 24, 2020 - 7:56pm

The European Union on Thursday criticised the arrest of prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong, saying it was "troubling" and undermined trust in China.

The 23-year-old's detention for for "unlawful assembly" over a 2019 demonstration comes after China imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong in late June.

"The arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong on 24 September is the latest in a troubling series of arrests of pro-democracy activists since the summer," an EU spokesperson said, calling for "very careful scrutiny" by the judiciary.

"Developments in Hong Kong call into question China's will to uphold its international commitments, undermine trust and impact EU-China relations."

The EU has repeatedly voiced concern at the new Hong Kong security law, which critics say erodes important freedoms in the city. — AFP

September 16, 2020 - 6:24pm

A Swiss photographer who closed a door on a Chinese mainlander moments before he was assaulted during last year's Hong Kong democracy protests should not be held responsible for the attack, his lawyers argued Wednesday.

Marc Progin, a long-time Hong Kong resident, is facing up to a year in jail for "aiding and abetting public disorder" over the incident in which JP Morgan employee Lin Nan was punched.

Footage of Progin closing the door moments before a masked man assaulted Lin went viral and caused widespread anger in mainland China. 

Prosecutors said Progin, 75, deliberately shut a door leading to JP Morgan's regional headquarters as an argument broke out between a crowd of pro-democracy supporters and Lin last October. 

They argued his actions effectively enabled the assault on Lin and that Progin therefore took part in the unfolding public disorder. 

Defense lawyers said Progin was simply doing his job and that he closed the door to get a better angle to capture the argument through his lens.

Defense counsel Michael Delaney said Progin had no intention to "stop, block or obstruct" Lin and that the behavior of the crowd had nothing to do with Progin. — AFP

September 15, 2020 - 3:18pm

Hong Kong activists shouted anti-government slogans outside court on Tuesday as more than two dozen high profile democracy campaigners appeared over a banned vigil to mark the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies on June 4 to mark the anniversary of Beijing's deadly suppression of students pushing for democracy.

The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the last three decades and usually attracts huge crowds, but this year's gathering was banned for the first time with authorities citing coronavirus measures — even though local transmission had largely been halted.

The group of defendants represents a broad section of the pro-democracy movement, from 72-year-old media mogul Jimmy Lai to younger campaigners such as Joshua Wong. — AFP

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