Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow pleaded guilty to two charges on June 6, in connection to mass protests outside of the city’s police headquarters last year.
Chow, 22, pleaded guilty to participating in an unauthorized assembly and inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly on June 21 last year. Speaking to the media after a hearing at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts, she said it was her personal decision to plead guilty and that she was mentally prepared in the likelihood that she is sentenced to a jail term.
If convicted of participating in an unauthorized assembly, Chow faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
She added that whether she pleaded guilty or not, her decision would not be able to stop Beijing’s oppression. She called on Hongkongers to continue their fight for freedom and democracy.
Also in court were fellow activists Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam, who like Chow were former members of the local political party Demosisto, which disbanded following Beijing’s formal enactment of a new national security law upon ceremonial votes on June 30.
Wong and Lam, who both face the same charges as Chow, pleaded not guilty. Wong also pleaded not guilty to a third charge of organizing an unauthorized assembly that day.
Standing next to Chow, Wong told local media that whether they pleaded guilty or not, it wouldn’t stop the Hong Kong government from prosecuting them under the national security law in the future.
The law criminalizes individuals for any acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with maximum penalties of life imprisonment.
Later on Monday, Chow took to her Facebook page and wrote: “My court session is over. I am good. Don’t worry about me.”
Hundreds of people left comments on her post to voice support. Some expressed gratitude for her sacrifices for Hong Kong, while many said they respected her decision.
After Chow admitted the charges against her, Washington-based advocacy group Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC) wrote on its Twitter account: “We believe in a #HongKong where no one can be arrested, detained, charged, or convicted for exercising his/her/their constitutionally-protected human rights.”
On June 21 last year, thousands of protesters besieged the city’s police headquarters in Wan Chai, blocking nearby roads and entrances into the building. They gathered in opposition to an extradition bill that would have allowed individuals to be sent to mainland China for trial. The bill has since been scrapped, but at the time, the Hong Kong leader only announced that the bill would be suspended.
Some protesters set up roadblocks near the police headquarters, while some threw eggs at the building. Crowds eventually thinned out by the following morning.
At the protest in Wan Chai, Wong, who had been released from serving a prison sentence for contempt of court just days earlier, led protesters in chants outside the police headquarters. He also demanded to speak with then-city police commissioner Stephen Lo; for the government to retract its designation of an earlier protest on June 12 as a “riot”; and for accountability for police violence while clearing protests.
The three were released on bail on Monday after their court session. They are scheduled to appear in court again on Aug. 5, when sentencing for Chow is expected to be announced, while a pre-trial review will be held for Wong and Lam.
From The Epoch Times