13-year-old girl in Hong Kong has been sentenced to 12 months of probation after setting fire to the Chinese national flag during a protest in September.
Images from outside the Tuen Mun Town Hall on September 21 show the young student preparing to burn the red and yelllow-starred flag with a lighter on the sidelines of a pro-democracy rally that saw clashes between police and protesters.
The girl and two unidentified protesters pulled the flag down from outside the town hall before setting it alight as reporters captured the scene. The girl’s face was clearly identifiable, allowing police to track her down and arrest her on the same day.
The girl pleaded guilty to the crime of “desecrating the national flag,” however, Magistrate Kelly Shui declared that she would not go easy on her just because she is so young, the Hong Kong Free Press reports.
“Please think about the consequences before carrying out any action,” she is quoted as telling the girl. “It is silly to do things rashly without considering the outcome.”
The girl becomes the second Hong Kong protester to be convicted of desecrating China’s national flag. Previously, a 21-year-old demonstrator was sentenced to 200 hours of community service on the same charge. He said he had trampled on the flag and threw it into a trash can “for fun.”
At maximum, a person can be sentenced to two to three years in jail for desecrating the national flag.