Hong Kong police on Thursday arrested prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong for his participation in a protest last October and for wearing a mask at the time. He was released the same day on bail.
Wong, 23, has been an outspoken supporter of the global call to boycott Disney’s new live-action “Mulan,” tweeting on its Sept. 4 release date, “I urge everyone who believes in human rights to #BoycottMulan.” The protest that sparked his arrest is a continuation of the same pro-democracy movement condemned last summer by Disney’s leading lady Liu Yifei and her fellow “Mulan” co-star Donnie Yen.
In controversial social media posts, both actors expressed support for the Hong Kong police, which had been condemned just days before by the UN Human Rights Office for “employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards.”
Speaking to the South China Morning Post days after the film’s release on Disney Plus, Wong said, “Now is the time to let Disney know that to kowtow to China should not be the way out, and for celebrities or any actors that endorse police brutality, the world will give [a] response.”
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Outside the police station where he was charged Thursday, Wong implied that his arrest was politically motivated, stating: “I believe an obvious reason is that the regime’s authorities are overlapping one case with another to try to confine all activists within Hong Kong’s borders.”
Veteran social activist Koo Sze-yiu, 73, was also arrested Thursday for “knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly” at the same October protest, Hong Kong police confirmed, but not for using a facial covering.
Wong’s arrest comes at a period during the coronavirus pandemic when all Hong Kong residents are in fact legally required to wear masks, but experts say the government will argue that the situation was different at the time of the protest in question last year.
His arrest hits a month after Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was detained on charges of colluding with foreign forces.
Wong became the face of the 2014 student-led Umbrella Movement pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong at age 17. He is the subject of the 2017 Netflix documentary “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower.”
He disbanded his pro-democracy group Demosisto in June hours before Beijing passed a controversial new national security law for Hong Kong, which has been widely criticized by Western governments for curtailing freedoms in the financial hub. It penalizes anything Beijing deems subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with charges that include up to life in prison.
Three of Wong’s activist colleagues there, including Agnes Chow, 23, were among 10 arrested in August for suspected violations of the law. Chow, also released on bail, was dubbed “the real Mulan” by some fellow activists who felt her willingness to fight for Hong Kong’s freedoms better embodied the legendary character than Liu.