Tuesday 16 July 2019

Freed activist Wong vows to fight 'evil' law in Hong Kong

Joshua Wong: Called for Lam to step down as Hong Kong leader. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images
Joshua Wong: Called for Lam to step down as Hong Kong leader. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images

Farah Master

ACTIVIST Joshua Wong, who has become the face of Hong Kong's push for full democracy, walked free from prison yesterday and vowed to join a mass protest movement demanding that the city's leader Carrie Lam steps down.

His release comes as a political crisis in the Chinese-ruled city enters its second week, amid growing uncertainty over the fate of Ms Lam and an extradition bill she postponed at the weekend after it triggered one of the most violent protests in decades.

"I will join to fight against this evil law," said Mr Wong (22), one of the leaders of the 2014 'Umbrella' pro-democracy protests that blocked major roads in Hong Kong for 79 days. "I believe this is the time for her, Carrie Lam the liar, to step down."

The crisis escalated during Mr Wong's five-week jail term for contempt of court.

Until this month, the failure of the 'Umbrella' protests to wrest concessions from Beijing, coupled with prosecutions of at least 100 protesters, had discouraged many young people from going back out on the streets.

The upheaval comes at a delicate time for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is grappling with a US trade war, an ebbing economy and regional strategic tension.

Many residents of Hong Kong are unnerved by Beijing's tightening grip and what they see as the erosion of its freedoms, fearing that changes to the rule of law could imperil its status as a global financial centre.

Hong Kong has been governed under a "one country, two systems" formula since its return to Beijing, allowing freedoms not granted to the mainland, but short of a fully democratic vote.

Protest organisers said almost two million people turned out on Sunday to demand that Ms Lam resign, in what is becoming the most significant challenge to China's relationship with the territory since it was handed back by Britain 22 years ago.

On Monday, protest organisers said they wanted Ms Lam to withdraw the bill, release arrested students, drop the official description of Wednesday's rally as a riot, and step down.

Irish Independent

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