Joshua Wong, the teenage leader who is the face of the youthful pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, was convicted Thursday of participating in an unlawful assembly that snowballed into a massive sit-in known as the Umbrella Movement. Two fellow youth movement leaders, Alex Chow, 25, and Nathan Law, 23, were also convicted on various charges. Both are former presidents of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which organized the class boycott that led to mass demonstrations in 2014 demanding more direct public participation in the election of Hong Kong’s chief executive. For nearly three months, thousands of protesters filled the financial district and other parts of the city demanding democratic reforms in China’s most significant public demonstrations since the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
During the trial, prosecution painted the student leaders as reckless colluders in a violent act of rebellion; Wong and his co-defendants argued that they had been driven to civil disobedience as a result of the government’s increasing clamp-downs on the right to demonstrate in public.
“No matter what the price or penalty is, we’ll keep fighting,” Wong said outside the courthouse. “We know facing off [against] the Chinese Communist Party is a long battle for democracy.”
The verdict, which came after nearly 10 weeks of deliberation by Magistrate June Cheung, could rekindle public dissatisfaction with the current Hong Kong administration in its waning months, as chief executive Leung Chun-ying mulls a second term.