Former student leader Joshua Wong walks out from prison after being jailed for his role in the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong, China, on Monday. Tyrone Siu/ Reuters
Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong walked free from prison on Monday after serving nearly five weeks for contempt of court, pledging to join a mass protest movement demanding that the city’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, to step down.
His release comes a day after organisers of the protest calling for Lam to quit over a controversial extradition bill said almost two million black-clad people joined Sunday’s march to government offices.
“I will join to fight against this evil law,” said Wong, 22, who was one of the leaders of the 2014 “Umbrella” pro-democracy protests that blocked major roads in the Chinese-ruled city for 79 days.
“I believe this is the time for her, Carrie Lam the liar, to step down.”
Before he was jailed, both Wong and his supporters had called for the Hong Kong government to scrap the extradition proposal.
Wong was just 17 when he stood at the forefront of the broad civil disobedience movement that presented China’s Communist Party rulers in Beijing with one of their biggest political challenges in decades.
The protests against the extradition bill have become the most significant challenge to China’s relationship with the territory since it was handed back by Britain 22 years ago.
While Lam delayed the bill at the weekend, it has yet to be completely shelved, despite widespread concern that the status of Hong Kong as a financial hub could be eroded by changes to the rule of law.
Four prominent leaders of Hong Kong’s democracy movement were jailed on Wednesday for their role in organising mass pro-democracy protests in 2014 that paralysed the city for months and infuriated Beijing.
In December, a Chinese court sentenced 10 of the 12 to between seven months and three years in jail. Defendants Tang Kai-yin and Quinn Moon, who were sentenced to three and two years, respectively, remain in Shenzhen.
"The bill stands suspended because it it had resulted in "conflicts in society," said Secretary for Security John Lee.
The Hong Kong government said on Tuesday it deeply regrets the involvement of civil servants in protests that have plunged the Chinese-ruled city into its biggest crisis in decades as activists plan fresh demonstrations across the territory.
Lawyers of Aryan Khan, Arbaaz Merchant and Munmun Dhamecha said that they are still awaiting detailed orders of Special Judge VV Patil to decide on their next legal move.
The Ministry stressed in a statement on Wednesday that its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.
Russia is seeking to assert its influence on Central Asia and push for action against Daesh fighters, which it says have massed in perennially volatile Afghanistan.