Hong Kong activists Agnes Chou, Ivan Lam and Joshua Wong before a court hearing in Hong Kong on November 23.
Tommy Waker | Nourphoto | Getty Images
SINGAPORE – U.S. and UK leaders have condemned Hong Kong’s decision to jail three leading activists on charges related to illegal pro-democracy rallies.
Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was sentenced on Wednesday to more than 13 months in prison, while two other pro-democracy members of his current disbanded political group, Agnes Chou and Ivan Lum, were also sentenced to 10 months and seven months, respectively.
Wong was convicted last year of organizing and inciting an illegal assembly near Hong Kong’s police headquarters. Chow confessed to inciting and participating in the same protest, while Lame pleaded guilty to incitement.
In response to the ruling, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Rabe urged Hong Kong and Beijing officials “End their campaign to quell the protests.”
“Prosecutors’ decisions must be fair and impartial and must uphold the rights and freedoms of the people in Hong Kong,” Rabb said in a statement.
Hong Kong is a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997. It is governed by a “one country, two systems” structure and is given more autonomy than other cities in China.
“China’s brutal punishment of these young champions of democracy in Hong Kong is astonishing,” he said. “This injustice is clear evidence that nothing will stop Beijing from dispelling dissent and destroying the freedoms and real freedoms granted to the people of Hong Kong.”
He called on “freedom-loving people” to condemn “unjust punishment and China’s widespread attack on the Hong Kong Congress.”
Defending his decision to sentence the three activists, Hong Kong’s Justice Department said in a statement: “In Hong Kong, human rights and freedoms, including freedom of speech and assembly, are fully protected by fundamental law. However, such freedoms are not absolute.”
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said in a tweet that he was saddened by the news.
“We hope that our friends in Hong Kong will not let go of the fear and their vision will go away,” he said in a post.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and sees the democratic self-governing island as a fugitive province. The Chinese Communist Party has never ruled a self-governing island.
Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, said the ruling was “another terrible example of China’s determination to handcuff Hong Kong.” According to the Associated Press.
Beijing had overtaken Hong Kong legislators earlier this year Pass the disputed National Security Act Which was seen by some as a way to contain dissent after months of pro-democracy protests. There were also four opposition MLAs Expelled from the city legislature for endangering national security, Reuters has reported.
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