Hong Kong’s ‘Grandma Wong’ jailed

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An elderly woman who became a fixture of Hong Kong’s democracy protests was jailed on Wednesday for unlawful assembly, a day after courts imprisoned a terminally ill 75-year-old activist.

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Alexandra Wong, 66, popularly known as “Grandma Wong”, was a regular presence at the protests three years ago, usually waving a British Union Jack flag.

Prosecutors accused her of participating in two unlawful assemblies on August 11, 2019 and shouting “offensive words,” adding that her flag-waving and slogans encouraged an illegal gathering.

Principal Magistrate Adam Yim jailed Wong for eight months citing the “scale and disruption to social order” of the democracy protests.

Unlawful assembly is one of the primary charges used by prosecutors against participants of the huge and sometimes violent democracy rallies that convulsed Hong Kong for months in 2019.

More than 2,800 people have been prosecuted for protest related offences, while a security law imposed by Beijing in 2020 has effectively now criminalized dissent in Hong Kong.

Wong earlier this year pleaded not guilty, but she switched her plea on Wednesday, the first day of her trial.

From the dock, the bespectacled and grey-haired Wong struck a defiant note and criticized Hong Kong’s government as an “authoritarian regime.”

She also reiterated an earlier claim that she had been interrogated and detained by security agents in the Chinese mainland for nearly 14 months and was forced to give written and filmed confessions.

Wong disappeared halfway through the 2019 protests.

She later re-emerged saying she was intercepted during a trip back to Shenzhen, the mainland city next to Hong Kong.

She alleged that she was kept in detention facilities in the mainland, taken on a “patriotic trip” and was kept in de facto house arrest until she was later allowed to return to Hong Kong.

In April, Wong was convicted of obstructing a police officer in a separate case and sentenced to six days in jail with an 18-month suspension.

In July last year, she was sentenced to one month in prison after she was found guilty of assaulting a security guard at the High Court lobby in January 2019.

Her jailing came a day after a Hong Kong court gave veteran activist and terminal cancer patient Koo Sze-yiu nine months in prison.

Koo was convicted of “attempted sedition” over a planned protest against Beijing’s Winter Olympics that was foiled by a pre-emptive arrest.

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