Asia Minute: Hong Kong Activists Incarcerated

Aug 18, 2017

Umbrella Movement Protest, Hong Kong 2014
Credit Studio Incendo / Flickr

Three student leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy movement have been sentenced to prison. It’s a reversal of a previous sentence of community service and sends a chilling message to protestors. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.


Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow.

The names are not famous in the United States, but they are well-known in Hong Kong—where they helped lead democracy protests in 2014.

That September, the three climbed a fence surrounding Hong Kong’s Legislative Council and occupied the courtyard outside. Their arrest by police sparked public protests, bringing tens of thousands of people into the streets in the days and weeks that followed.

The three were convicted of charges related to unlawful assembly. Initially two of them were sentenced to community service and the third was given a suspended sentence.

But the Hong Kong government wanted a stiffer penalty—so it appealed the case.

On Thursday, a higher court imposed jail time: six, seven and eight months.

But critics say the real point here is not the time behind bars—it’s the political penalty that goes with it.

Under Hong Kong law, all three activists are now disqualified for running for a seat on the Legislative Council for five years.

After the decision, Joshua Wong took to Twitter, writing “You can lock up our bodies, but not our minds! We want democracy in Hong Kong. And we will not give up.”

All three plan to appeal their cases.