Democracy activist Alex Chow said he is “very optimistic” about the upcoming appeal of his jail sentence and thanked the justice secretary for the “wonderful journey.”

Hong Kong’s top court has approved on Tuesday applications by democracy activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Chow to proceed with their appeal over their prison terms. The appeal will be heard on January 16 next year. Chow was also released on bail.

The trio stood outside the court together for the first time since August, when they were first jailed. Law said the Court of Final Appeal agreed with many of their grounds for appeal and hoped the result would be beneficial to freedom of assembly in the future. Chow said he was “very happy” to see Wong and Law, who are in good health.

Joshua Wong, Alex Chow, Nathan Law. Photo: In-Media.

“I also have to thank [Justice Secretary] Rimsky Yuen for providing a platform to give us – the people of Hong Kong – a lot of opportunities to let justice not only to be done, but also to be seen,” he said. “We had this wonderful journey because of him.”

Last year, they were found guilty of inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly by the Magistrates Court. They were initially given community service sentences, which they served in full. However, the Department of Justice won a sentence review pushing for harsher punishment.

‘We go yum cha’

Chow said the trio’s first activity will be to have lunch at a tea restaurant: “Yum cha, we go yum cha. I think this is one of the very important things. This thing has always been discussed by prisoners in the prison. We have been looking forward to this day for [so] long.”

Wong said he was looking forward to listening to Chow’s stories in prison when they “drink tea and eat buns.”

Wong and Law applied for bail two weeks ago, but Chow did not apply at the time, as he intended to complete his sentence before attending UC Berkeley for a doctorate programme next year. Chow said he changed his mind because he was “very optimistic” about the appeal.

The other reason, Chow said, was that the final appeal was scheduled earlier than he expected, so he had little reason to stay in prison.

Alex Chow. Photo: In-Media.

“If I stay in the Pik Uk prison, the most beneficial thing I can do is to help the Correctional Services Department to reform,” he said, adding he will work with Wong, Law and lawmakers to follow up.

According to Chow, he raised concerns over correctional staff demanding inmates kneel down for headcounts before returning to cells at night. He said the exercise has since been cancelled.

Chow said the public should also also raise concerns about other jailed protesters: “We are not alone on this path.”

“We should adjust our feelings in prison… so that we are not beaten by the regime, and that the prison sentence will become a learning experience for us – so that we can be better after we are out of prison,” he said, adding that he “could not have better parents.”

A group of United Nations experts urged Hong Kong to respect the human rights of the three democracy activists. They said they feared that, if the trio’s sentences are upheld, it will have the effect of stifling the expression of dissenting opinions.

Wong thanked the UN experts and said that the statement proved that the international society will continue to express concern over the case.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.