Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam have been sentenced to prison for organising and inciting an unauthorised assembly outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai last June.

Joshua Wong Ivan Lam Agnes Chow
Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam and Joshua Wong. File Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

HKFP has rounded up reactions from activists, human rights groups, and local as well as international politicians.

Activist Joshua Wong

It’s not the end of the fight. Ahead of us is another challenging battleground. We’re now joining the battle in prison along with many brave protestors, less visible yet essential in the fight for democracy and freedom for HK.

The tenacity of Hongkongers continues to give us strength in our sufferings. Please, take your positions, give support to each other.

Chris Patten, ex-Hong Kong governor

The imprisonment today of Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam and Agnes Chow – all of them campaigners for the rule of law and democracy in Hong Kong – is another grim example of China’s determination to put Hong Kong in handcuffs.

Hong Kong government

Human rights and freedom in Hong Kong, including freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, are fully protected by the Basic Law. However, such freedoms are not absolute. As the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal at the Ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year 2020 stated that, “we see clear limits in the law to the exercise of rights. The enjoyment or insistence on one’s rights does not, for example, provide any excuse to harm other people or their property, or to display acts of violence.” 

The three defendants pleaded guilty to their charges. Those who absurdly demanded for their immediate release not only disrespect our judicial system but also manifest their blatant denial of the fact that the defendants themselves pleaded guilty.

Activist Nathan Law

It’s devastating to witness three of my former colleagues, Joshua, Agnes, Ivan are jailed. The sentencing is absurd…

Once again, It’s another blatant attack on the HK activists, whose wishes are solely bringing democracy to Hong Kong. Beijing never fulfilled their promises. Rather, they have politically suppressed tens of thousands of protestors who are chanting for their legitimate claims.

For Joshua and Ivan, this is not the first time they step into the cell. But the sentences are longer than all previous. Joshua 13.5m, Ivan 7m, Agnes 10m.Besides, under the National Security Law, Beijing can also prosecute them for their speeches, turning thoughts into crimes.

Sentences could pile up. To be honest, I have no idea when the trio could step out of the prison if Beijing pledges to impose the hardest charges on them arbitrarily. Please support them and offer them encouragement, to remind them that they are not alone.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab

As three Hong Kong activists begin prison sentences, I urge the Hong Kong and Beijing authorities to bring an end to their campaign to stifle opposition.

Prosecution decisions must be fair and impartial, and the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong must be upheld.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Elizabeth Quat

The likes of Joshua Wong wrecked the younger generation of Hong Kong. They deserved it!

NGO Hong Kong Watch

This is flagrant political prosecution, a total miscarriage of justice. The precedent set by applying such lengthy sentencing to unlawful assembly charges is also enormously alarming. Such punitive sentencing is clearly in breach of the right to peaceful assembly.

Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International

Even in protests where isolated acts of violence took place and public property was damaged, these should not be attributed to others or the organisers, or to the assembly in general…

Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam now join the many others who have been sentenced to jail in connection with the 2019 Hong Kong protests – the vast majority of whom have been prosecuted despite their activities being entirely peaceful.

Nabila Massrali, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy of the EU

Sentencing today of Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, & Ivan Lam is another sign of shrinking space for pro-democracy voices in #HongKong. Exercise of fundamental freedoms, incl. peaceful assembly, must be ensured.

US Senator Marsha Blackburn

Communist China continues to crack down on human rights and destroy any semblance of autonomy in Hong Kong. Democracy activist Joshua Wong will again be unjustly sentenced for fighting for Hong Kong’s core values.

I treasure our past conversations and will continue to work to support his message of democratic freedom. Keep the faith, Joshua, you are truly an inspiration to freedom fighters everywhere.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.