HK activist Joshua Wong arrested again, vows to fight on

HONG KONG • Prominent Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong was arrested yesterday for taking part in a protest at the height of the city’s pro-democracy unrest last year, but he vowed to continue resisting China’s crackdown on dissent.

The arrest of the territory’s most high-profile dissident is the latest in a string of arrests of government critics and comes after China imposed a sweeping new national security law on Hong Kong in late June.

Wong was arrested for “unlawful assembly” over a 2019 demonstration against a government ban on face masks that were imposed before the coronavirus pandemic, his lawyer said.

The 23-year-old, who now faces three separate cases, said after being bailed that he was also held for violating the “draconian” anti-mask law, which has since been ruled unconstitutional.

Wong’s lawyer told AFP he was re-arrested when he reported to a police station concerning another case currently being tried. “Wong is accused of participating in an unlawful assembly on Oct 5 last year, when hundreds marched to oppose an anti-mask ban the government rolled out,” lawyer Jonathan Man said.

Wong told reporters after he was bailed: “No matter what happens, I will continue to resist and hope to let the world know that how Hong Kongers choose not to surrender.”

At the time of the Oct 5 march, Hong Kong had already been battered by four months of increasingly violent pro-democracy protests.

The city had ground to a halt following a night of chaos in which hardcore protesters trashed dozens of subway stations, vandalised shops with mainland China ties, built fires and blocked roads.

Hundreds of protesters, almost all masked, staged the unsanctioned demonstration through the popular shopping district of Causeway Bay, a day after the city’s Leader Carrie Lam outlawed face coverings by invoking colonial-era emergency powers not used for half a century.

Under Hong Kong’s current anti-virus measures, face masks are now mandatory in all public places. — AFP