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You are Not Alone, Joshua Wong

On Wednesday, Chinese authorities sentenced Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong to 13-and-a-half months in prison. Wong predicted his likely imprisonment in a Bush Institute Democracy Talks interview conducted this summer.

Article by William McKenzie, Lindsay Lloyd, and Christopher Walsh December 4, 2020 //   3 minute read

On Wednesday, Chinese authorities sentenced Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong to 13-and-a-half months in prison. The 24-year old student leader is no stranger to imprisonment, having been arrested and detained three previous times for his fight for human rights in his native city. But this term is the harshest sentence yet for his determined and courageous stand for democratic freedom, which has included leading peaceful protests against China’s crackdown on civil liberties in Hong Kong.


Wong predicted his likely imprisonment in a Bush Institute Democracy Talks interview the three of us did with him this summer. As he told us then, “I also am not sure when the day will come for national security agents to arrest me directly. …Arresting me or extraditing me alone to China seems to be a matter of timing.”


Anticipating his eventual arrest doesn’t take away from the immorality of the young leader being detained simply for standing up for freedom of speech, electing one’s leaders in a fair and impartial process, and the right to peacefully demonstrate against oppression, among other freedoms. 


Before the authorities officially sentenced Wong and fellow dissidents Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam this week, he spent three days in solitary confinement. In a letter from prison, he described the experience this way: “Even though I have been imprisoned three times and have the experience, I still found it difficult to be sent suddenly to the ‘prison within a prison.’” His time in that “prison within a prison” was marked by a bright light being beamed at him, requiring him to wear a surgical face mask to even attempt sleep.


As difficult as the young democrat found that confinement, he wanted to reassure others being detained for their basic rights as human beings. As hard as imprisonment is, he wrote, you are not alone.


And neither are you, Joshua Wong. Those who believe in the cause of human freedom, which flows from the belief in the dignity of each individual, stand with you and Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam. That includes us here at the Bush Center. May God comfort you and may you know you are not alone.