When the International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC) awarded the 2018 Democracy Medal to three prominent Hong Kong democracy activists - Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, student leaders of the Umbrella Movement – we knew their struggle was important.
The same brave young people who are today helping to inspire others in Hong Kong to fight for their human rights, were recognised at the IAPC's 51st World Conference in Sydney, Australia last year.
“Millions of people in Hong Kong are today protesting to have their democratic rights protected and are winning in an incredible display of people power.” Stated IAPC President, Mehmet Ural, “It’s important to recognise and celebrate the brave people who risk life and liberty to protect the democratic rights of many. Recognition and global attention may be the only protection such brave people have.”
In 2018 the IAPC's international membership voted to award the world’s longest-standing international democracy award to Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow, young student leaders of Hong Kong's civil disobedience Umbrella Movement, also known as Occupy Central.
“The 2018 IAPC Democracy Medal award recognised the courage and persistence of these student leaders to promote and sustain autonomy and democratic freedoms for Hong Kong in the face of increasing political control by the pro-Beijing authorities.
“As the global expansion of democracy has recently faltered against populist and authoritarian trends, their democratic mission offers a shining example for young citizens worldwide to emulate,” Mr Ural said.
Joshua Wong and his colleagues initiated the 79-day sit-in protest in Hong Kong from September 2014, the largest political demonstration in China since Tiananmen Square.
In August 2017, Joshua Wong (then 21), Nathan Law (24) and Alex Chow (27) were convicted and jailed for six to eight months for their roles in the early stages of the 2014 protests, barring them from running for political office for five years.
But in a stunning victory for the three young democracy leaders, Hong Kong's highest court in February 2018 overturned the prison sentences of the trio. They had already served two months of their sentences when released on bail in November 2017.
Despite prison terms, political pressure and physical assaults, Joshua Wong and his colleagues remain defiant, continuing the peaceful efforts of the student leaders to achieve universal suffrage and protect the autonomy and freedoms guaranteed Hong Kong in the Sino-British joint declaration.
This declaration returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997 after 150 years as a British colony under the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle, allowing the former colony to maintain its unique political and economic system with rights of free speech, free press and free assembly guaranteed until 2047. But critics accuse Beijing of creeping interference in the city's affairs and its government of toeing the Beijing line.
Jon Gaul | +61 414 603 133