Hong Kong: Joshua Wong pleads guilty in protest at trial | News | DW | 23.11.2020
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Hong Kong: Joshua Wong pleads guilty in protest at trial

Joshua Wong and fellow pro-democracy activists Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow have pleaded guilty to all charges linked to participation in a protest outside Hong Kong's police headquarters last year.

Hong Kong's pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong pleaded guilty on Monday to all charges related to his involvement in protests that took place in June 2019. He was joined by two other known activists — Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow — who also pleaded guilty to charges against them.

"We three have decided to plead guilty to all charges," Wong told reporters before entering the courthouse. "It will not be surprising if I am sent to immediate detention today."

"But I am persuaded that neither prison bars, nor election bans, nor any other arbitrary powers would stop us from activism. What we are doing now is to explain the value of freedom to the world," Wong added.

DW's Beijing correspondent Mathias Bölinger said the activists decided to plead guilty "to speed up the process, as they knew they could not win in this court."

The activists face a maximum of five years in prison.

Watch video 00:35

'Now is not the time for us to kowtow to Beijing'

'Rule of law in Hong Kong exists in name only': Wong

All three are being prosecuted over a protest that took place outside Hong Kong’s police headquarters in June 2019 when pro-democracy rallies rocked the city for seven consecutive months, often resulting in violence.

The demonstrations were triggered by the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill by the Hong Kong government. Protests have abated since China introduced a controversial national security law in June.

Regina Ip, founder and leader of the pro-Beijing New People's Party, told DW there was "no blanket suppression of rights and freedoms." 

"Everyone is subject to the same set of laws administered by the same system. I don't think they should there should be any exception just because they call themselves freedom fighters," she said.

Read more: Joshua Wong remains defiant in face of potential five years in prison

The now-aborted Fugitive Offenders legislation would have potentially meant the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China, where Wong and other activists felt residents would be subjected to Beijing's stricter approach to civil liberties.

Watch video 00:52

Wong: Fight for freedom has not yet ended

Despite his intention to plead guilty, Wong has little confidence in the judicial process ahead.

"Courts in Hong Kong are being interfered with by the Beijing authorities, and the rule of law in Hong Kong exists in name only," Wong told DW, days before the start of his trial.

Former Hong Kong lawmaker and pro-democracy activist Nathan Law told DW that Wong's arrest "reinforced the end of one country two system in the eyes of a pro-democracy movement."

see/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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