Activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow have given up appeals against their convictions for unlawful assembly offences arising from the storming of Civic Square. Their actions gave rise to Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests.
Wong and Law have completed significant parts of their sentences, whilst Law also voiced concerns about his other court cases.
Both were convicted of participating in an unlawful assembly, whilst Law was also found guilty of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly.
Wong and Law were given 80 and 120 hours of community service respectively, while Chow was sentenced to three weeks in jail, suspended for one year, in August last year. They lodged the appeal two weeks after the conviction.
The Court of Appeal granted the Department of Justice leave to appeal against the sentencing of the trio. The case has yet to be scheduled.
The trio’s appeal was scheduled to be heard on May 22, but they decided to give it up a few weeks ago upon receiving legal advice.
Wong told HKFP that he had only around ten hours of community service left to complete, so there was not much point in appealing.
He also hoped to demonstrate to those who criticised them for being irresponsible in joining the Occupy protests that they would take responsibility. Even if the situation amounted to a political prosecution.
Poor chance of victory
Law said that they may not have the best chance in winning the appeal. He said he faces other court cases, and potential cases related to Occupy protests, so he decided to give up appealing as legal procedures are very cumbersome. He has completed more than half of his community service.
In 2014, Wong was the convener of student group Scholarism. Chow and Law were the secretary-general and a member of the Standing Committee of the Hong Kong Federation of Students respectively.
They led the storming of the so-called Civic Square – a fenced-off forecourt in front of government headquarters in Admiralty – on September 26 that year. They were protesting the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress’s restrictive framework for Hong Kong’s chief executive elections.
Dozens of protesters inside the square were arrested. But demonstrators also occupied roads near the square in support, with police later using tear gas on September 28 to disperse them. A 79-day protest occupying main roads around Hong Kong ensued.
Wong is now the secretary-general of political party Demosistō, whilst Law is a legislator for the party.
Chow had already planned to move to the London School of Economics to study a master’s degree in sociology when he was convicted.
He was to receive an 80-hour community service sentence. But the magistrate agreed to a suspended sentence, as it would allow him to study overseas, instead of being required to stay in Hong Kong.
Chow will start his PhD at UC Berkeley’s geography department in August.