Hong Kong police arrest Tiananmen vigilante provocative leaders
Posted on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 | 9:15 p.m.
Updated 1 hour and 20 minutes ago
HONG KONG (AP) – Hong Kong police on Wednesday arrested four leaders of the group that held the city’s annual Tiananmen Square commemorations after refusing to cooperate with a national security investigation, the group said.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of China’s Democratic Patriotic Movements openly challenged the implementation of a 14-month-old national security law, saying police arbitrarily branded pro-democracy organizations as foreign agents.
Chow Hang-tung, one of four people arrested and vice president of the alliance, began a series of Facebook posts shortly before 7 a.m., starting with two live Facebook broadcasts in which she said that some people rang the doorbell. Chow, a lawyer, appears to be in her office and muffled screams can be heard in the background.
“The worst part about being arrested is that I didn’t put on new clothes or brush my teeth, will my breath overwhelm the National Security Police? She wrote in a message.
The alliance is best known for hosting candlelight vigils in Hong Kong on the anniversary of China’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. The event gathered massive crowds each year, and was the only large-scale public commemoration of the June 4 crackdown on Chinese soil.
Authorities have banned vigils for the past two years, citing public health risks from the pandemic, although critics believe the ban is part of an ongoing crackdown on dissent in the city after months of anti-government protests in 2019.
Alliance leaders delivered a letter to police on Tuesday rejecting a request for details of the group’s operations and finances. Police had earlier warned that failure to meet these obligations could result in a fine of up to HK $ 100,000 ($ 12,900) and six months in prison.
Police confirmed on Wednesday they had arrested three men and a woman, aged 36 to 57, for failing to provide information under the National Security Act. The police did not identify them.
Dozens of pro-democracy activists have been arrested since the implementation of the National Security Law, which prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion.
Critics say the law completes the rollback of freedoms not found on the mainland that Hong Kong has promised it could retain for 50 years after being handed over from Britain, such as freedom of speech and assembly.
Many pro-democracy organizations have been dissolved for security reasons, such as the Civil Human Rights Front, known for staging mass protests on July 1, the day in 1997 when the former British colony was handed over to China. . Other disbanded groups include the Professional Teachers’ Union, a pro-democracy union for teachers.
The Hong Kong Alliance is one of the few pro-democracy groups in the city that has yet to officially announce its disbandment.
Chow was due to represent pro-democracy activist Gwyneth Ho in court for a bail hearing, and wrote on Facebook that it was unfortunate that she couldn’t attend. She also posted a photo of the waterfront view outside her office, claiming she was looking at it for the last time.
Chow also asked if anyone had any farewell words for her. In less than three hours, supporters left more than 500 comments telling her to take care of him and thanking her for her work in the alliance.
The other three people arrested are Leung Kam-wai, Chan Dor-wai and Tang Ngok-kwan, the group said. The three, along with Chow, are members of the alliance standing committee.
The leaders said on Tuesday that the police do not have the right to request information from the group because it is not a foreign agent and the authorities did not provide sufficient justification in their request.
“This association believes that the issuance of the letter has no legal basis, so we will not provide any information requested in the letter,” the committee said.
Police are investigating the alliance for allegedly working for foreign interests.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that law enforcement officers could request information from suspected foreign agents or foreign political organizations according to the law.
“If someone says openly that they are going to break the law, they cannot call themselves a civil society group,” Lam said.
Several of the alliance’s leaders, including lawyer Albert Ho and activist Lee Cheuk-yan, are already behind bars after being convicted of their roles in unauthorized rallies.
Alliance members were scheduled to meet on September 25 to discuss and vote on whether or not to dissolve at a general meeting. The alliance said on Wednesday that the meeting would continue.