Hong Kong stu­dent leader Wong back in court

The China Post - - LIFE -

Hong Kong stu­dent leader Joshua Wong was back in court Fri­day over an anti-China protest, a day af­ter he faced new charges re­lated to a pro-democ­racy rally.

Wong, 18, has ac­cused the author­i­ties of “po­lit­i­cal pros­e­cu­tion” as they hit him with a raft of cases.

“The gov­ern­ment and po­lice have a po­lit­i­cal agenda,” Wong told AFP at court Fri­day.

The charges he faces re­late to var­i­ous protests be­tween June and Novem­ber last year.

“I think it’s quite un­rea­son­able. They could have taken us to court last year ... It’s mean­ing­less,” he said.

Wong be­came the teenage face of the pro-democ­racy “Um­brella Move­ment” that gripped Hong Kong for more than two months at the end of 2014.

Protesters were call­ing for free elec­tions of the semi-au­ton­o­mous city’s next leader, op­pos­ing a blue­print laid down by Bei­jing which would have meant can­di­dates were vet­ted by a loy­al­ist com­mit­tee.

That re­form pack­age was voted down by leg­is­la­tors in June, in an un­prece­dented re­buke to Bei­jing.

Fri­day’s hear­ing con­cerned a small anti-China protest last June — ahead of the ma­jor ral­lies — which saw dozens gather out­side Bei­jing’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice in Hong Kong.

They were op­pos­ing a

“white pa­per” from China that as­serted its con­trol over the semi-au­ton­o­mous city and a re­pro­duc­tion of the doc­u­ment was burned.

Wong, stu­dent leader Nathan Law, 22, and ac­tivists Raphael Wong and Al­bert Chan have been charged with ob­struct­ing po­lice at the June in­ci­dent. All have pleaded “not guilty.” The case was ad­journed Fri­day un­til Oct. 26 when there will be a stay of pro­ceed­ings hear­ing.

“They’ve known about this since the day of the ar­rests,” said Wong’s lawyer Michael Vi­dler.

“Why haven’t they pro­ceeded? We’re say­ing it’s po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.”

Wong and Law were

also charged Thurs­day over a stu­dent protest in Septem­ber which helped spark the wide­spread democ­racy ral­lies.

Wong faces fur­ther charges over a democ­racy rally last Novem­ber, but said he was de­ter­mined to keep cam­paign­ing.

“Some­times be­cause of the court, I can’t go to school — it re­ally af­fects my daily life and my aca­demic process,” Wong told AFP on Fri­day.

“It’s frus­trat­ing and tir­ing, but I still think it’s worth pay­ing the price.”

Wong said his cam­paign group, Schol­ar­ism, would be an­nounc­ing a new strat­egy in Septem­ber.

It will co­in­cide with the Sept. 28 an­niver­sary of the start of the democ­racy ral­lies — the date when po­lice fired tear gas at protesters, gal­va­niz­ing thou­sands more to come out in sup­port of the move­ment.

Wong called for uni­ver­sal suf­frage in the short-term and “self­de­ter­mi­na­tion” as a long- term goal af­ter 2047, when the 50-year agree­ment to pro­tect Hong Kong’s way of life, which took ef­fect when Bri­tain handed the city back to China in 1997, comes to an end.

“I’m still op­ti­mistic ... but of course it’s hard for us to change the sys­tem in the next two or three years.

“We just hope to gather and strengthen civil so­ci­ety to fight for us in the fu­ture,” Wong said.

AFP

Stu­dent protesters Joshua Wong, cen­ter left, and Nathan Law, right, stand out­side the court of jus­tice in Hong Kong on Fri­day, Aug. 28.

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