Hong Kong's Grandma Wong Jailed Over High Court 'Assault' Charge

Alexandra Wong gets one month in jail amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent in the wake of the 2019 protest movement.
By Lau Siu Fung, Man Hoi Yan, Gigi Lee, Emily Chan, Cheng Yut Yiu
2021-07-14
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Hong Kong's Grandma Wong Jailed Over High Court 'Assault' Charge Activist Alexandra Wong (C), also known as Grandma Wong, is taken away by Hong Kong police while protesting on the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain, July 1, 2021.
AFP

An iconic Hong Kong democracy activist who frequently took part in the 2019 protest movement waving a British flag has been jailed for one month.

Alexandra Wong, 65, known by fellow protesters as Grandma Wong, was sentenced to one month's imprisonment by the Eastern Magistrates' Court, which found her guilty of "common assault."

The court found that Wong had "pushed" a security guard at Hong Kong's High Court in 2019 after being asked for an ID in the lobby of the building.

Magistrate Edward Wong said the alleged assault was "intentional" and didn't happen in self-defense.

He said the court had a duty to protect its staff.

Wong commented at a court hearing in May, before she was remanded in custody: "I don't know what will happen in the future, but I will keep on going until my last breath; hope to see you on the other side."

Wong's jailing came as a court heard arguments around whether using the main slogan of the 2019 protest movement -- Free Hong Kong! Revolution Now! -- was in breach of a draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the wake of the protests.

Tong Ying-kit, 24, is the first person to stand trial with no jury in Hong Kong’s High Court under the national security law for "incitement to secession" and "terrorism," as well as dangerous driving charges after he rode a motorcycle carrying the slogan on July 1, 2020 during protests against the law.

Tong's trial is being held in front of a panel of three national security judges handpicked by chief executive Carrie Lam, while he is being represented by barrister Lawrence Lau and Senior Counsel Clive Grossman.

The Hong Kong government announced last July that the slogan was in breach of the national security law, which criminalizes speech and actions deemed secessionist, subversive, or seditious.

Book vendors warned

The city's annual book fair opened on Wednesday amid warnings from the organizer to vendors to exercise "self-discipline" when choosing which books to display, or risk being investigated by Hong Kong's national security police.

Benjamin Chau, deputy head of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), which runs the Hong Kong International Book Fair, said any complaints about books displayed at the fair will be referred to national security police.

CCP supporters have said they will be going to the fair to carry out spot checks at the fair, which included displays of CCP content including the Selected Works of Mao Zedong, biographies of the late supreme leader, and Mao badges.

Books relating to the political ideology of current CCP leader Xi Jinping didn't seem to be selling so well as the Mao-era offerings, however.

"That's Xi Jinping, the president of our country," a primary school student at the fair told RFA. "I recognize him from the TV news, but I'm not interested in buying his book."

"The school gave it to me as a gift, but I don't want to read it because it's so boring: I want to buy some other, more interesting, books," the student said.

Another group of primary school students, asked what would violate the national security law, replied: "Demonstrations, because they want to split Hong Kong and China."

One student, asked if they felt brainwashed, replied: "No, because I don't listen. I just do my own thing."

Self-censorship

Jimmy Pang, who heads the Hong Kong publishing house Subculture, said the book fair was already engaging in self-censorship, however.

"They won't be taking all of the books they have published [to the venue], including anything about June 4, 1989 [Tiananmen massacre] or the [2019 protest] movement," he said.

"Self-censorship is a huge issue, and it's not good [for the industry]," Pang said. "Nobody wants to get into trouble, so they simply won't bring books along that don't praise the government, or that criticize it."

According to Pang, the city's publishers are now gradually adopting the concept that some books are banned, which will force independent houses out of business.

He said that the forced closure of the pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper and the arrests of columnists under the national security law would have a huge impact on the publishing industry.

"It will be worse than having no book fair or no books published," Pang said. "Publishing will continue to exist, but it may be biased and simplistic."

"No one will dare to tell the truth any more ... Maybe even printers might not dare to print [certain books], or the publisher wouldn't want to distribute them, and bookstores might not want to sell them," he said.

"This is where the real damage will be done to the publishing industry."

An independent publisher who declined to be named said he would be leaving several books behind this year, including an oral history of the Cultural Revolution and a satirical book about current events.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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