2017 imprisonment of Hong Kong democracy activists

On 17 August 2017, three Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, Alex Chow, Nathan Law and Joshua Wong, were given prison sentences by the Court of Appeal for their roles in a protest at the Civic Square in front of the Central Government Complex in Tamar, Admiralty, on 26 and 27 September 2014.[1] The events at the Civic Square helped set off massive pro-democracy protests, sometimes referred to as the Umbrella Movement, which lasted until police cleared the last of the protest sites in December 2014.

2017 imprisonment of Hong Kong democracy activists
Supporters of the jailed activists marching on 20 August 2017
Date17 August 2017 (2017-08-17)
LocationHong Kong
TypeImprisonment
Cause3 on roles in storming the Civic Square,[1] 13 on roles against the planned North East New Territories new town
ParticipantsJoshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow
OutcomeApplauded by the pro-Beijing camp but decried by pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong
Convicted16
VerdictGuilty[1]
ConvictionsChow: Taking part in an unlawful assembly
Law: Inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly
Wong: Taking part in an unlawful assembly[1]
Sentence6 (Wong), 7 (Chow), 8 (Law) months in prison and 8 (1 person), 13 (12 people) months in prison

The three had originally been convicted and ordered to perform community service or, in the case of Chow, given a suspended sentence. The government appealed their sentences and successfully pursued harsher punishments on the grounds that their crime involved a large-scale unlawful assembly with a high risk of violence.[2] The trio's imprisonment was applauded by the pro-Beijing camp but decried by pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong as well as international politicians and human rights advocates, who have called the activists Hong Kong's first prisoners of conscience, and alleged that the sentence is intended to intimidate other would-be activists.

The sentence also disqualifies the three from running for office for five years, quashing their political aspirations in the near future. Wong had previously sought election but was barred due to his age, while Law, democratically elected to the Legislative Council in September 2016, was removed from office in July 2017 following a government challenge.

The three activists were released on 6 February 2018 after a successful appeal against their custodial sentences at the Court of Final Appeal.[3]