As he was led away to start a 13-and-a-half-month sentence, Joshua Wong vowed to continue his fight for Hong Kong freedom. He said his battle was about to begin a less visible but essential phase, from prison.
The 24-year-old face of the city’s Pro-Democracy movement was today sentenced for charges of inciting and organising a protest last year. It relates to a demonstration held outside Hong Kong’s police Headquarters on June 21.
He has been on the frontline since he was just 15 years old, starting a campaign against ideological education in schools. Earlier this year the organisation he founded, Demosisto, was forced to cease its activities when a new National Security law was imposed on Hong Kong by China.
Any act which threatens or criticises the sovereignty of the Chinese Government is now criminal by law.
Recently resigned pro-democracy legislator Claudia Mo recalls a young man called Joshua calling her up for advice on how to get involved in community action.
Today as her friend was sentenced, she described him as "iconic" and said it was clear that by giving him jail time, the authorities were seeking to send a chilling message across the rest of the city; a warning to all pro-democracy supporters of the consequences of speaking out.
She said she was in no doubt that Joshua's fight is not over, adding she hoped his sacrifice will not be in vain.
Sentenced alongside Joshua Wong today was Agnes Chow who, who has become a prominent voice in Hong Kong's student activist groups.
She was given a seven month sentence for taking part in an unlawful assembly. The 23-year-old broke down in tears as her sentence was passed.
This is her first custodial sentence and she will start it by spending her 24th birthday tomorrow, behind bars.
The head of the Hong Kong bar association, British lawyer Philip Dykes, believes this is a worrying time in the city’s courts, and in the next three to four months there will be more cases brought under the National Security law which will illustrate the full effect of a change which has rocked the city’s justice system.
He predicts there will be people summarily transferred to the mainland for trial, which was the fear that prompted last years protests.
Joshua Wong has predicted he too will face further charges while inside. In a speech made before pleading guilty last week, he said: “Perhaps the authorities wish me to stay in prison but I am persuaded that, neither prison bars, nor election bans, nor any other arbitrary power would stop us from activism.”
While awaiting sentence Wong was kept in isolation, in a letter written to his lawyer he described that as beyond his expectation, the hardest challenge he has faced so far.
It is likely in the next 13-and-a-half months the 24-year-old will have more such ordeals to overcome as he continues the fight for Hong Kong freedom, having lost his own.