Hong Kong teen leader Joshua Wong guilty in protest trial

A Hong Kong court has found three student leaders of pro-democracy protests guilty of charges related to the demonstrations that paralysed many streets of the Chinese-ruled city in 2014.

Joshua Wong and Alex Chow were found guilty of unlawful assembly, while the third student, Nathan Law, was found guilty of inciting demonstrators to scale a fence.

Joshua Wong, 19, and Alex Chow, 25, were both found guilty of unlawful assembly by local courts today (July 21).

He said that the Department of Justice was not only charging the three of them, but all those who took part in the Umbrella Movement Occupy protests, thus they were not alone and not fearful. The trio will be sentenced on August 15 and could be jailed for up to two years.

Speaking after his court appearance, Wong said: "We might need to go into prison".

"We know facing the largest communist regime in the world is a long-term battle for us to fight for democracy". Wong and the other students were detained, and calls for their release grew into weeks-long street protests popularly known as the Umbrella Movement.

The three were charged with storming into a courtyard dubbed Civic Square beside the Hong Kong government complex on September 26 2014 to protest against Beijing's decision to restrict elections for the city's leader.

Law has submitted his nomination form to run in the Legislative Council election in September as a member of Demosistō - a party he formed with Wong.

Law said the case shows that there is less and less room for dissent in Hong Kong, which was promised the continuation of its traditional freedoms of speech and assembly for 50 years, under the terms of the1997 handover to China.

Amnesty International criticized Hong Kong's Public Order Ordinance, on which the prosecution based its case, noting it has been criticized by the United Nations Human Rights Committee for not meeting international human rights law and standards on the right of peaceful assembly. According to the Hong Kong government as of 31 January 2016, 216 people have been prosecuted, or continue to face charges for their alleged involvement in the protests.

"Because of our actions, the Umbrella Movement started", said fellow protester Nathan Law.

  • Joey Payne