The Congressional–Executive Commission on China (CECC), a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers, spoke out on June 12 against the imprisonment of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow.
Chow, 24, was released from prison on June 12 after being imprisoned for more than six months for taking part in an unauthorized protest near Hong Kong’s police headquarters on June 21, 2019. She was convicted along with fellow activists Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam in December last year.
On June 12, the CECC took to Twitter to voice support for Chow, as well as others who remain behind bars in Hong Kong.
“#AgnesChow’s release only highlights the injustice of her imprisonment,” the CECC stated.
“A more appropriate action to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of 2019 #HongKong protests would have been to drop charges against those who participated in those protests & release all other political prisoners.”
June 9, 2019, marked the start of the pro-democracy, anti-Chinese Communist Party movement in Hong Kong, when more than 1 million Hongkongers took to the streets in protest against an extradition bill that would have seen suspects being handed over to China for trial in Party-controlled courts, which are notorious for being used to silence critics and punish dissidents. The extradition bill was formally scrapped months later.
After the bill was shelved, protesters in Hong Kong continued to demand universal suffrage and an independent investigation into police brutality against protesters. The protests died down in the Chinese-ruled city after the Chinese regime imposed a draconian national security law last year. Since then, activists and opposition figures have been charged under the law while others have sought asylum in other countries.
Hong Kong police arrested more than 10,100 people and prosecuted over 2,300 people between June 9, 2019, and Nov. 30, 2020, according to the police department’s Facebook page. Many of those prosecuted were accused of riot, illegal assembly, or criminal damage.
The CECC’s views were echoed by Benedict Rogers, co-founder and chief executive of London-based NGO Hong Kong Watch, and by Washington-based organization Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC).
“I am glad @ChowAgnes has been released from prison—but she should never have been jailed in the first place!” Rogers wrote on Twitter.
HKDC wrote on Twitter: “She [Chow], and countless others, should never have been arrested in the first place. And every day a single activist spends in jail is one day too many.”
On June 12, Chow didn’t speak to the media after she was released from the Tai Lam Correctional Institution in Hong Kong. She wrote on Instagram later that day.
“The painful six months and 20 days are finally over,” Chow wrote. “What’s next is to take a good rest and take good care of [my] body because [my] body has become too thin and weak during this time period.”
She ended her brief message with the words “(wry smile).”