HK Activist Agnes Chow Shares Her Experience in Prison

Agnes shared that the biggest shadow she felt in prison came from National Security personnel, whio asked her to sign a document every three months.Agnes Chow, former deputy secretary-general of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy group Demosisto, who lives in exile in Canada, recently shared her experience in Hong Kong prison.Agnes, 27, was a former spokesperson of the activist group Scholarism and a leader of the Hong Kong Demosisto Party together with Joshua Wong, and others. Known as the “Goddess of Scholarism,” she is fluent in Japanese. She has been to Japan for activities such as discussion forums on Hong Kong’s political situation and has a certain reputation in Japan.In August 2020, under the Hong Kong National Security Act, Agnes was arrested in connection with the case of former Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai. In December 2020, she was sentenced to 10 months in jail for “inciting others to participate in unauthorized assemblies” and other crimes due to involvement in the anti-ELAB movement in 2019.Since her release in June 2021, Agnes has been required to report to national security police regularly, with her passport confiscated and her travel restricted. In 2023, being allowed to study in Canada, Agnes announced that she had decided to go into exile and would not return to Hong Kong to report to the police.“I don’t want to be forced to do anything any more, and I don’t want to be forced to go to mainland China any more,” she wrote in an Instagram post.She also revealed that after her release from prison, she had been asked by state security officers to visit mainland China and was forced to write a letter of thanks before she could go to Canada for further studies.Related StoriesHong Kong police announced on Feb. 6 that Agnes was officially wanted and would be “hunted for life.”In a video published on Feb. 26, Agnes said she was very uncomfortable during the initial stage in prison and washed her face in tears every day. She was initially detained at Lo Wu Correctional Institution but was suddenly upgraded to “Grade A” status and detained at Tai Lam Correctional Institution together with other serious offenders sentenced to life imprisonment.She shared that although the charges against her fellow inmates sounded horrible, they were not that vicious and that she got along well with her cellmates and was not bullied.“In prison socialization, everyone is an ordinary person, and there are times when they are distressed and happy or unhappy,” she said.Being a Grade A prisoner means a higher level of security. Every time Agnes left prison to go to the hospital, she had to take the “Ironclad Veyron” prison van, which was like sitting in a narrow telephone booth, where the whole space was sealed, giving her a feeling of claustrophobia.Learning New Skills in PrisonAs for prison life, the girl was assigned to fold government envelopes and briefcases in prison. Later, she was assigned to do laundry work and use a sewing machine.“Although it is a hard process, and no one wants to be in prison, it has given me one more skill, that is, using the sewing machine,” Agnes said.The prison diet, as Agnes expected, was light. While she had no problem with breakfast and dinner, she was not used to eating congee for lunch, especially the green bean congee, which made her feel sick and gave her stomach pains. She believed that it was because of the cold nature of the green beans and that sitting in prison had made her health worse, which a lot of female inmates could relate to.Fiction Helps Forget Reality, PainAgnes revealed that her favorite thing to do in prison after work was to read novels, as fiction could help her forget the pain of the real world for a while. She had read more than 20 novels by Japanese author Keigo Higashino, as well as a complete set of “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games.”“Sometimes when coming back to the real world after reading a novel, seeing myself surrounded by four walls and sitting on a hard board bed, [I] really had a feeling of despondency and unhappiness,” she said.Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow steps out of a Hong Kong Correctional Services vehicle after being released from the Tai Lam Correctional Institution in Tuen Mun district in Hong Kong on June 12, 2021. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)She also frequently wrote letters to friends when in prison. While most of her letters were sent out smoothly, one letter written on June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, was unable to be received, and it is not known yet whether it was related to political factors.“For inmates, every word they write and every picture they draw is their heart and soul, and a rare channel for them to communicate with the outside world. So whatever the reason for not being able to get their words out, it’s heartbreaking for inmates.”National Security Staff Posed Biggest ShadowThe young political leader shared that the biggest shadow she felt in prison came from National Security personnel, wh

HK Activist Agnes Chow Shares Her Experience in Prison

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Agnes shared that the biggest shadow she felt in prison came from National Security personnel, whio asked her to sign a document every three months.

Agnes Chow, former deputy secretary-general of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy group Demosisto, who lives in exile in Canada, recently shared her experience in Hong Kong prison.

Agnes, 27, was a former spokesperson of the activist group Scholarism and a leader of the Hong Kong Demosisto Party together with Joshua Wong, and others. Known as the “Goddess of Scholarism,” she is fluent in Japanese. She has been to Japan for activities such as discussion forums on Hong Kong’s political situation and has a certain reputation in Japan.

In August 2020, under the Hong Kong National Security Act, Agnes was arrested in connection with the case of former Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai. In December 2020, she was sentenced to 10 months in jail for “inciting others to participate in unauthorized assemblies” and other crimes due to involvement in the anti-ELAB movement in 2019.

Since her release in June 2021, Agnes has been required to report to national security police regularly, with her passport confiscated and her travel restricted. In 2023, being allowed to study in Canada, Agnes announced that she had decided to go into exile and would not return to Hong Kong to report to the police.

“I don’t want to be forced to do anything any more, and I don’t want to be forced to go to mainland China any more,” she wrote in an Instagram post.

She also revealed that after her release from prison, she had been asked by state security officers to visit mainland China and was forced to write a letter of thanks before she could go to Canada for further studies.

Hong Kong police announced on Feb. 6 that Agnes was officially wanted and would be “hunted for life.”
In a video published on Feb. 26, Agnes said she was very uncomfortable during the initial stage in prison and washed her face in tears every day. She was initially detained at Lo Wu Correctional Institution but was suddenly upgraded to “Grade A” status and detained at Tai Lam Correctional Institution together with other serious offenders sentenced to life imprisonment.

She shared that although the charges against her fellow inmates sounded horrible, they were not that vicious and that she got along well with her cellmates and was not bullied.

“In prison socialization, everyone is an ordinary person, and there are times when they are distressed and happy or unhappy,” she said.

Being a Grade A prisoner means a higher level of security. Every time Agnes left prison to go to the hospital, she had to take the “Ironclad Veyron” prison van, which was like sitting in a narrow telephone booth, where the whole space was sealed, giving her a feeling of claustrophobia.

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Learning New Skills in Prison

As for prison life, the girl was assigned to fold government envelopes and briefcases in prison. Later, she was assigned to do laundry work and use a sewing machine.

“Although it is a hard process, and no one wants to be in prison, it has given me one more skill, that is, using the sewing machine,” Agnes said.

The prison diet, as Agnes expected, was light. While she had no problem with breakfast and dinner, she was not used to eating congee for lunch, especially the green bean congee, which made her feel sick and gave her stomach pains. She believed that it was because of the cold nature of the green beans and that sitting in prison had made her health worse, which a lot of female inmates could relate to.

.

Fiction Helps Forget Reality, Pain

Agnes revealed that her favorite thing to do in prison after work was to read novels, as fiction could help her forget the pain of the real world for a while. She had read more than 20 novels by Japanese author Keigo Higashino, as well as a complete set of “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games.”

“Sometimes when coming back to the real world after reading a novel, seeing myself surrounded by four walls and sitting on a hard board bed, [I] really had a feeling of despondency and unhappiness,” she said.

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Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow steps out of a Hong Kong Correctional Services vehicle after being released from the Tai Lam Correctional Institution in Tuen Mun district in Hong Kong on June 12, 2021. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow steps out of a Hong Kong Correctional Services vehicle after being released from the Tai Lam Correctional Institution in Tuen Mun district in Hong Kong on June 12, 2021. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

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She also frequently wrote letters to friends when in prison. While most of her letters were sent out smoothly, one letter written on June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, was unable to be received, and it is not known yet whether it was related to political factors.

“For inmates, every word they write and every picture they draw is their heart and soul, and a rare channel for them to communicate with the outside world. So whatever the reason for not being able to get their words out, it’s heartbreaking for inmates.”

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National Security Staff Posed Biggest Shadow

The young political leader shared that the biggest shadow she felt in prison came from National Security personnel, who asked her to sign a Notice of Travel Document Detention every three months, she could not remember the number of times.

When the National Security Police visited her at Tai Lam Correctional Institution, she felt very scared, worrying that she would be arrested and prosecuted again because of the National Security Law and would not be able to get out of jail.

Agnes ended the video by saying that her freedom is not easy to come by now, and she would continue to make movies to share her interesting life stories. However, due to security concerns, she may not shoot on the street.

This is the first time Agnes has made a movie since she was released from prison, with the last video on the channel being released in November 2020. In the comment section, many netizens left messages in Chinese, English, and Japanese in support of her continuing to make films, and some sponsored her through YouTube.

“It’s so great to see you recovering like this! Although, as others have said, there may be tears and unseen sorrows behind the video, as long as you are here, we are here too!” reads one comment in Mandarin.

“Some netizens called you ‘Hong Kong’s daughter,’ and you deserve it. You have given so much to Hong Kong and to the nation, going through a lot of hardship and being imprisoned,” reads another Cantonese comment.

“I am so happy for you that you have finally left the clutches of the devil and come to a free country, where you can study and do what you like to do.”

Teresa Zhang contributed to the report.

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