Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong arrested for 2019 unauthorized assembly

Elias Hubbard
September 24, 2020

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong has been arrested for "unlawful assembly" related to a 2019 protest against a face-mask ban.

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

Wong rose to prominence as a student leader during the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests for universal suffrage, and is among a growing number of activists being charged for various relatively minor offenses since Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the territory that has severely restricted political speech.

Jonathan Man, Wong's lawyer, told AFP news agency that the pro-democracy activist was "accused of participating in an unlawful assembly on October 5 previous year, when hundreds marched to oppose an anti-mask ban the government rolled out".

Wong said on Twitter that he faced five years in jail and one additional year for a mask.

Wong disbanded his pro-democracy group Demosisto in June, just hours after China's parliament passed the national security law for Hong Kong, bypassing the city's local legislature, a move widely criticized by Western governments.

Wong told reporters after leaving the police station that it is the third case against him.

Hong Kong police confirmed they arrested two men, aged 23 and 74, on Thursday for illegal assembly on October 5, 2019.

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.

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

The Hong Kong government invoked a colonial-era emergency law on October 4 of past year to ban the wearing of masks at demonstrations, sparking an outcry and mass protests against the ban across the city the next day.

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

The new law punishes anything China considers as subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with up to life in prison.

Beijing has described it as a "sword" hanging over the heads of its opponents as it pushes to return stability.

The arrest comes just a day after a Hong Kong court rejected on procedural grounds a challenge by Wong to his disqualification from district elections in the city past year.

His long-time colleague, Agnes Chow, and two other activists were also among 10 people police arrested in August on suspicion of violating the new law. She has been released on bail.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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