Wednesday last week was a dark day for Hong Kong. In the afternoon, news broke that the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts had sentenced three former Demosisto members on unauthorized assembly charges.
Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), Agnes Chow (周庭) and Ivan Lam (林朗彥) were sentenced to 13.5 months, 10 months and seven months in jail respectively.
The news left many Hong Kongers feeling utterly dejected. When I think of Wong, Chow and Lam behind bars, and the many months of suffering that they will have to endure, tears flow down my cheeks.
The “crime” that these children were found guilty of was “inciting crowds to surround a police headquarters” during demonstrations in June last year.
Several days earlier, Hong Kong’s “black” police force had used extreme violence to quell a peaceful protest against an amendment to the law that would have permitted Hong Kong residents to be extradited to mainland China for trial. Many protesters were injured at the hands of police and the public was seething with anger.
Wong, Chow and Lam led a rally against police violence that converged on the police station. The crowd simply wanted to verbally vent their anger at police.
Even the judge was forced to admit that the crowd was “peaceful in nature and nonviolent.”
Adding to the sense of injustice, it was the first time that any of the three had pleaded guilty at a court hearing. Hong Kongers all hoped they would be given lenient sentences.
Law-abiding Hong Kongers believed Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s (林鄭月娥) statements that she “has deep love for young people,” and that Hong Kong Secretary for Security John Lee (李家超) and Police Commissioner Chris Tang (鄧炳強) are “extremely kindhearted.”
However, this hope was shattered when Chow, who pleaded guilty during her first appearance in court, was refused bail by the presiding judge. The following day was her 24th birthday.
Is this what Lam meant when she professed her “deep love for young people?” If law enforcement officials and members of the judiciary have demonstrated “kindheartedness,” one wonders what cruelty looks like.
In reality, Lam adheres to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) time-honored practice of saying one thing and then doing another. The pupil has eclipsed her masters in Beijing.
Despite the miserableness of the situation, it is gratifying that the international community has not forgotten us.
On the day of the sentencing, British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab issued a statement urging the authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing to “bring an end to their campaign to stifle opposition.”
Britain’s last governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten said: “It is another grim example of China’s determination to put Hong Kong in handcuffs.”
“Darkness will always pass; the dawn will always come,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) wrote on Twitter, encouraging Hong Kongers not to give up.
Several US lawmakers also issued a joint statement calling on the entire world to “unite and condemn the unjust sentences.”
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato expressed “deep concern and anxiety,” while Japanese Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii lodged a “strong protest” to the leadership of the CCP and urged Beijing to “immediately cease its brutal repression.”
As he left court, Wong said: “I know the coming days will be tougher. We will hang in there.”
Son, rest assured that we Hong Kongers will not give up. We will get through these bitter times together, we will stand and fall as one, and wait for the coming new dawn.
Jimmy Got is a Hong Kong emigrant residing in Taiwan.
Translated by Edward Jones
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