Indiana University Student Government hosted a virtual event Nov. 1 with Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong activist. Wong, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, discussed his fight for freedom in Hong Kong.
In recent years, protests have arisen in Hong Kong due to an ongoing conflict with the Chinese government. In 1997, China retook control of the former British colony. Hong Kong residents are supposed to be granted more freedom than those in mainland China, but in recent years, the Chinese government has restricted its independence.
“As an organization, we are proud to stand with the people of Hong Kong and other pro-democracy movements throughout the world,” Student Body Vice President Ruhan Syed said in a press release. “This event is the first in a series where we hope to highlight the work of student activists and underscore the need for greater civic engagement in America.”
Protestors in Hong Kong, including Wong, are demanding full democracy.
“This challenge has made us reflect on the ideas of freedom and democracy,” he said. “It’s important for us to take action.”
Wong, who is only 24 years old, served one month in prison in 2019 after his involvement in the 2014 protests during the Umbrella Revolution, a set of protests against a set of restrictions on Hong Kong’s electoral system. He currently awaits trial for another charge.
“It is highly likely I am returning to prison soon,” he said. “I face a maximum of five years in prison. It is why I cherish every moment to share this message with you.”
The charges, which will be heard later this year, are related to protests that occurred in 2019. Those protests were in opposition to an anti-face mask law that would’ve outlawed wearing face masks during protests, a move that would allow for quick identification of those attending protests. Wong said he is still facing attacks.
“I have been under state surveillance since June,” he said.
Wong was a candidate for Hong Kong’s 2020 legislative elections, but just weeks prior to the election, he was determined invalid to run by Hong Kong’s government.
“I was banned from election,” he said. “Despite our obstacles, our support for this mission is undiminished.”
During the discussion, he mentioned the NBA controversy regarding China and Hong Kong.
“During protests of 2019 in Hong Kong, we realized how NBA players were being attacked,” Wong said. “Free speech is not only about Hong Kong; it’s about how the global community should react.”
That NBA controversy started after then-Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image in support of Hong Kong. The NBA, however, has close ties to China, leading the league to separate itself from Morey’s claims and express support for the Chinese government. That immediately sparked a wave of controversy.
Wong said he has no plans to give up his fight for freedom for Hong Kong, and he encouraged others, including students, to get involved.
“I would say that when free speech is being threatened, the best way is to take action,” he said. “Action speaks louder than words.”