Hong Kong activist ‘Grandma Wong’ jailed for eight months over pro-democracy protests

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The Guardian

Hong Kong has jailed a 66-year-old activist known affectionately as Grandma Wong in relation to the pro-democracy protests that rocked the city three years ago.

A city magistrate jailed Alexandra Wong for eight months on Wednesday over two counts of unlawful assembly during a protest on 11 August 2019. Wong was a familiar presence at the protests, and was widely recognised for flying the British union jack.

Principal magistrate Ada Yim found Wong to have participated in two illegal assemblies, and cited her use of flags and slogans to encourage others to do the same.

From the dock, the bespectacled and grey-haired Wong struck a defiant note and criticised Hong Kong’s government as an “authoritarian regime”.

She also reiterated an earlier claim that she had been interrogated and detained by security agents in the Chinese mainland for 45 days and prevented from returning to Hong Kong for nearly 14 months. She said she was forced to give written and filmed confessions.

Wong is no stranger to the courts, and has continued to stage one-woman protests outside the city’s court buildings in support of other pro-democracy activists during their hearings, despite Hong Kong’s punitive national security law.

The activist has previously been convicted of a series of other protest-related charges, including a four-day sentence in January for refusing to show her ID card during another protest, and a one-month sentence for assault in July 2021 for pushing a court security guard.

Wednesday’s sentencing followed the sentencing of another elderly dissident just one day prior. Another city magistrate sentenced Koo Sze-yiu, who is 75 years old and terminally ill with late stage colon cancer, to nine months in jail on Tuesday for “attempted sedition” for planning to protest against the Beijing Winter Olympics.

The sentence came in the same week the US congressional commission monitoring the development of human rights and the rule of law in China published a report saying the city’s department of justice is increasingly pursuing politically motivated cases.

The report by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China published on Monday found the city’s prosecution has played a “key role in carrying out political persecution in the city”, citing an “increasingly apparent political motivation behind the department’s actions.”

“The Hong Kong government’s hardline approach to dissent and pro-democracy views, and the growing number of political prisoners, raises serious concerns about the erosion of the rule of law in the city,” the report summary read.

More than 10,500 people have been arrested in relation to the protests three years ago, over 2,900 of whom have been prosecuted.

July 14, 2022 at 09:39AM Rhoda Kwan in Taipei

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