17 August 2017.
Contacts: Dorjee Tseten, Co Chair of Tibet Network, Member of Tibetan Parliament + 1 646 753 3889 or Alison Reynolds, Executive Director, International Tibet Network, +44 7711 843884
“We condemn Hong Kong’s highly political sentencing of democracy leaders Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow to between 6 and 8 months in jail, and the sentencing yesterday of 13 other activists to almost a year of imprisonment,” said Dorjee Tseten, Co Chair of International Tibet Network, who has met and worked with Hong Kong activists in the past. “This is a vengeful and calculated attack against peaceful activism and free speech that proves that the courts in Hong Kong have become craven tools of the Chinese Communist Party.”
All the activists had previously, in July 2016, received and fulfilled sentences relating to separate protests in 2014. The Hong Kong Department of Justice was unsatisfied with the outcome – including for example a 3-week sentence for Alex Chow and 80 and 120 hours of community service for Joshua Wong and Nathan Law respectively* – and last October asked the Court of Appeal to impose prison sentences. These sentences will bar all three activists from standing for the Legislative Council for the next five years.
Tenzin Dorjee, a prominent Tibetan activist who keeps in regular contact with campaigners in Hong Kong, said ”Evidence is mounting that Hong Kong will not enjoy freedom and rule of law until it achieves self-determination. Joshua and Alex are two of the most selfless and remarkable people I’ve met, whose dedication to the people of Hong Kong is unshakeable. While old tyrants like Xi Jinping are choking the island on fear and repression, these young leaders are risking their own lives to build a future of freedom and democracy for Hong Kong.”
This blatant assault on civil rights and rule of law follows protests during Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong in July, the tragic death of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo and subsequent concerns about his wife, Liu Xia, and demonstrates China’s hidden insecurities ahead of the 19th Party Congress this year.
Tibet Groups, in a message of solidarity to the people of Hong Kong on last month’s 20th anniversary of the handover, expressed grave concerns over Beijing’s increasing interference in Hong Kong politics and the rapid erosion of freedom in recent years, including the persecution of pro-democracy activists and the undue influence over elections.
Alison Reynolds, Executive Director of International Tibet Network, said: “We call on the international community to press China for the immediate release of the Hong Kong democracy activists. We express our deep respect for all those fighting for their fundamental freedoms. To Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law in particular, we send our admiration of your indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to nonviolent action, and share your aspirations to have full control over your affairs and to determine your own future. We will stand with you for as long as it takes for your aspirations to be fulfilled.”