On my current visit to Hong Kong I am once again trying to talk to some of the activists in order to get a better understanding of the shifting political territory. When I contacted Joshua Wong, one of the most dedicated pro-democracy campaigners, he wrote back to me: “I might not able to meet you since my court case sentencing is scheduled on Thursday afternoon. I need to prepare before being locked up in prison.” This will be the third time he is sent there for his political engagement.
In 2017, he was jailed for his role in the occupation of Civic Square three years earlier. Last year, he was in prison for failing to comply with a court order concerning a protest in Mong Kok in 2014. Meanwhile, the organizers of the Occupy Central demonstrations of 2014 have also recently been sent to jail.
The Hong Kong authorities are using a heavy hand in dealing with those activists. In other jurisdictions such cases might have been dealt with more leniently and in a spirit of reconciliation. But here in Hong Kong the opposition is tolerated only as long as it accepts that it is and will always be only a minority and submits meekly to the edicts of the ruling system.
One begins to understand why the ancient Greek democrats thought of majority rule as a form of tyranny.