The Hong Kong Court of Appeal has sentenced democracy activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow to prison over their involvement in a clash which sparked the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement protests. Thursday’s sentencing followed a successful appeal of their sentences by the Department of Justice. It came almost three years after the Occupy demonstrations rocked the city.

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Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Natha Law. Photo: Facebook/Demosisto.

Amnesty International Hong Kong Director Mabel Au: 

“The relentless and vindictive pursuit of student leaders using vague charges smacks of political payback by the authorities… The real danger to the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong is the authorities’ continued persecution of prominent democracy activists.”

China director at Human Rights Watch Sophie Richardson: 

“The justice department’s outlandish application seeking jail time is not about public order but is instead a craven political move to keep the trio out of the Legislative Council, as well as deter future protests.”

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Cartoon: Badiucao.

Democratic Party of Hong Kong:

“Ever since Chief Executive Carrie Lam assumed office, she has said multiple times that she wants to repair the rifts in society… Whilst the government has not done anything practical to mend these divides, today we have seen an act of political persecution in which a group of young people who fought for real democracy and justice have been thrown into prison. The Democratic Party believes that the government is extremely shameful.”

Civic Party of Hong Kong:

“The Civic Party believes that this sentence, despite being lighter than that given to the Northeast New Territories protesters, exhibits the same principle: the government will stop at nothing in its use of appeal procedures and sentence reviews – what are, in effect, tools of legal terrorism – to deal with protesters and social movements opposed to the establishment. The appeal and jail sentence is a form of institutional violence and political suppression – it has ‘created’ the youngest group of political prisoners since the handover.”

Pro-democracy group People’s Power’s Tam Tak-chi:

“A time without heroes is tragic. A time in need of heroes is tragic. A wildfire cannot destroy the grass; it will grow back with the coming of spring.”

Pro-democracy lawmaker Ray Chan:

“Thanks for everything. See you guys soon!”

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Chan is Hong Kong’s first openly gay lawmaker. Photo: Ray Chan/Facebook.

Former president of Hong Kong University’s student union Billy Fung:

“The virtuous will never stand alone; they will always have companions. No man is an island!

Ousted localist lawmaker Yau Wai-ching:

“As a result of this chain of injustices, grief, and obstacles, we may have thought of giving up on this place. But ever since our companions in the fight for justice were first imprisoned, there has been no way back. Do not give up on the righteous who have already sacrificed so much for Hong Kong, and do not give up on the Hongkongers who are still persisting in their resistance.”

Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarism:

“Over the past twenty years, many students have faced political prosecution. The cracking down of student movement exactly tells a vivid reality of how the Government suppresses local democratic movements. Ever since the Umbrella Movement, local student and social movements have faced unprecedentedly intensifying degree of suppression by the Government. Apparently, it has felt itself in a position losing its public credibility and has become unable to attenuate discontents in the public… Just as all the other prominent dissents who fought the previous battles against the authoritarian regime, these political prisoners sacrifice their freedom and youth in the hope to raise the awareness of other Hong Kong people about the injustice we all face. They are righteous people. They are now put behind the bars for democracy and freedom.”

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Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Pro-democracy activist Ken Tsang:

“We’re going to fight until the end. We’re going to try our best to do whatever we can to protect the rights for Hong Kong citizens… People won’t give up easily, especially the young people. We don’t have faith in our legal system, we don’t have faith in the political system. But we do have faith in ourselves… [I]’m sure the harder you try to oppress the people, the harder we fight back.”

Jun Pang is an independent writer and researcher. She has previously worked in NGOs advocating for refugees' and migrants' rights in Asia and Europe.