HONG KONG – An elderly woman who became a fixture of Hong Kong’s democratic protests was jailed on Wednesday for unlawful assembly, a day after a terminally ill 75-year-old campaigner was imprisoned.
Alexandra Wong, 66, often known as “Grandma Wong,” was a regular protester three years ago, generally waving a British Union Jack flag.
On August 11, 2019, prosecutors accused her of participating in two unlawful gatherings and shouting “offensive comments,” noting that her flag-waving and slogans encouraged an illegal assembly.
Principal Magistrate Adam Yim imprisoned Wong for eight months noting the “scale and disturbance to social order” of the democracy protests.
Prosecutors used unlawful assembly as one of the principal allegations against participants in the massive and sometimes violent democracy rallies that shook Hong Kong for months in 2019.
More than 2,800 people have been prosecuted for protest-related offenses, and Beijing’s 2020 security law essentially criminalized dissent in Hong Kong.
Wong pled not guilty earlier this year, but changed her plea on Wednesday, the opening day of her trial.
Wong, bespectacled and grey-haired, adopted a defiant tone from the dock, criticizing Hong Kong’s administration as a “authoritarian dictatorship.”
She also stated that she had been interrogated and jailed by security officers on the Chinese mainland for approximately 14 months and was compelled to submit written and filmed confessions.
Wong vanished in the middle of the 2019 protests.
She later resurfaced, claiming she was apprehended while returning to Shenzhen, the mainland city next to Hong Kong.
She claimed she was detained on the mainland, taken on a “patriotic excursion,” and placed under de facto house imprisonment until she was allowed to return to Hong Kong.
In a separate case in April, Wong was convicted of impeding a police officer and sentenced to six days in jail with an 18-month suspension.
She was sentenced to one month in prison in July of last year after being found guilty of attacking a security guard in the High Court lobby in January 2019.
Her incarceration came a day after a Hong Kong court sentenced veteran campaigner and terminal cancer patient Koo Sze-yiu to nine months in prison.
Koo was convicted of “attempted sedition” in connection with a planned protest against the Winter Olympics in Beijing that was thwarted by a pre-emptive arrest.