Pro-democracy Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong has been sentenced to 13.5 months in prison after pleading guilty to inciting and organizing an unauthorized protest in 2019 outside the city’s police headquarters, the toughest and most high-profile sentence for an opposition figure this year.

Two other activists, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam, were sentenced to 10 months and seven months in prison respectively over the protest on June 21 last year. Chow faced charges relating to inciting and taking part in the protest, while Lam was charged with inciting the protest.

The sentences come as critics have alleged that the Beijing-backed government is intensifying a crackdown on Hong Kong’s opposition and chipping away at wide-ranging freedoms of the citizens.

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The trio, former members of the disbanded political party Demosisto, had been remanded in custody since November 23, and were transferred from prison to court to hear their sentences.

Hundreds of supporters turned out at the West Kowloon Magistrates Court Wednesday, as well as a small number of pro-China demonstrators, calling for a hefty prison sentence.

“I know the coming days will be tougher. We will hang in there,” Wong shouted after the sentence was read out, as per Reuters inputs.

“It’s not the end of the fight,” Wong said later through his lawyers.

“Ahead of us is another challenging battleground. We’re now joining the battle in prison along with many brave protesters, less visible yet essential in the fight for democracy and freedom for Hong Kong.”

Despite his young age, Wong has already spent time in prison for leading democracy protests.

Becoming an activist when he was in his early teens, Wong organised successful rallies in 2012 against plans to make Hong Kong’s education system more ‘patriotic’ and similar to the mainland.

When last year’s much democracy protests kicked off, he was still in jail.

ALSO READ | Hong Kong’s freedom shrinking… China fears defeat: Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong

On his release, he vowed to continue fighting for democracy and made appearances at numerous rallies throughout the year.

However, the protests were deliberately leaderless, mostly organised by social media and encrypted chat forums.

They were also much more violent. Riot police unleashed thousands of rounds of tear gas and rubber bullets and were frequently filmed using batons to beat arrested demonstrators.

Small groups of hardline activists resorted to rocks, petrol bombs and even bows and arrows.

More than 10,000 people were arrested and Hong Kong’s courts are now filled with trials. Most of the city’s leading activists and opposition figures face prosecution.