Hong Kong Tiananmen Vigil Leaders Charged with Subversion | New
HONG KONG (AP) – Three leaders of the group that held an annual candlelight vigil in Tiananmen were detained on Friday after being charged with subversion under Hong Kong’s National Security Act as authorities step up crackdown on the dissent in the city.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Patriotic Movements of Chinese President Lee Cheuk-yan, as well as Vice-Presidents Albert Ho and Chow Hang-tung have been charged with inciting the subversion of state power under of the National Security Act. The alliance itself was also accused of subversion.
Chow was denied bail days after his arrest for failing to respond to a police request for information. Lee and Ho are currently serving prison terms for their role in unauthorized gatherings in 2019. The next court hearing for the case is scheduled for October 28.
For the past 30 years, the alliance has held a candlelight vigil that has seen tens of thousands of people gather in the city’s Victoria Park to commemorate China’s bloody military crackdown on pro-peace protests. democracy in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
It was the only large-scale public commemoration of the crackdown on Chinese soil, with crowds of people lighting candles and singing songs in support of democracy.
Police have banned vigils for the past two years citing the coronavirus pandemic, although critics believe the ban is part of the crackdown on dissent that Beijing and Hong Kong leaders have waged after months of anti-government protests in the territory in 2019.
Authorities have now characterized the Hong Kong Alliance of Supporting China’s Democratic Patriotic Movements as a foreign agent and have requested details of the group’s operations and finances in connection with its alleged activities and ties to democratic groups in China. abroad.
Chow and four other leading alliance members had refused to cooperate with the police’s request for information and were arrested this week for failing to comply.
The five pleaded not guilty on Friday and were denied bail. The next court hearing will be on October 21.
Police on Thursday confiscated computers, documents and promotional materials from the closed June 4 museum, which was run by the alliance to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown.
Police said that HK $ 2.2 million ($ 280,000) in assets belonging to the alliance were also frozen.
On Friday, a Facebook post was posted to Chow’s account urging Hong Kong people not to “accept their fate”.
“Maybe the other side will crush the ‘obstacle’ that we are, but resistance is to gather forces in exchange for a little time and space, to allow more ‘obstacles’ to come up. grow, ”the post said.
“As long as we still have the will to fight, we haven’t lost.”
Over the past year, dozens of pro-democracy activists have been arrested, others have left the city to go into exile abroad, and the city has amended election laws to increase the number of seats for pro-Beijing lawmakers while reducing those who are directly elected.
The National Security Law, imposed by Beijing on the city in June last year, criminalizes subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion to interfere in the city’s affairs.
Critics say the National Security Act, which has been used to arrest more than 100 people, nullifies the freedoms promised to the former British colony when it was handed over to China in 1997. Hong Kong was promised that it could maintain freedoms not found on the continent for 50 years, such as freedom of speech and assembly.
This story has been corrected to show that Chow’s Facebook post was made on Friday.
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