Hong Kong activists behind Tiananmen vigil sentenced to 4.5 months in jail



Three former organizers of Hong Kong’s annual vigil in remembrance of victims of China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests had been jailed Saturday for four-and-a-half months for failing to supply authorities with data on the group in accordance with a nationwide safety legislation.

Chow Grasp-tung, Tang Ngok-kwan and Tsui Hon-kwong had been arrested in 2021 throughout a crackdown on town’s pro-democracy motion following large protests greater than three years in the past. They had been leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Help of Patriotic Democratic Actions of China and had been discovered responsible final week.

The now-defunct alliance was greatest recognized for organizing candlelight vigils in Hong Kong on the anniversary of the 1989 Chinese language navy’s crushing of Tiananmen Sq. pro-democracy protests, however it was voted to disband in 2021 beneath the shadow of the Beijing-imposed nationwide safety legislation.

Supporters say its closure has proven freedoms and autonomy that had been promised when Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 are diminishing.

Earlier than its disbandment, police had sought particulars about its operations and funds in reference to alleged hyperlinks to democracy teams abroad, accusing it of being a international agent. However the group refused to co-operate, arguing the police didn’t have a proper to ask for its data as a result of it was not a international agent and the authorities didn’t present ample justification.

Beneath the safety legislation’s implementation guidelines, the police chief can request a spread of data from a international agent. Failure to adjust to the request may lead to six months in jail and a wonderful of 100,000 Hong Kong {dollars} ($17,600 Cdn) if convicted.

Activist denies group was international agent

In her mitigation, Chow stated the alliance was not a international agent and that nothing had emerged that proved in any other case, so sentencing them was about punishing individuals for defending the reality.

She stated nationwide safety is getting used as a pretext to wage a warfare on civil society.

“Sir, sentence us for our insubordination should you should, however when the train of energy relies on lies, being insubordinate is the one technique to be human,” she stated.

Handing down the sentences, principal Justice of the Peace Peter Regulation stated the case is the primary of its form beneath the brand new legislation and the sentencing has to ship a transparent message to society that the legislation doesn’t condone any violation.

Regulation, who was permitted by town’s chief to supervise the case, stated he noticed no justification for decreasing the four-and-a-half-month sentence.

In earlier authorized proceedings, the court docket ordered a partial redaction of some data after prosecutors argued {that a} full disclosure of data would jeopardize an ongoing probe into nationwide safety instances. Therefore, some essential particulars, together with the names of teams that had been alleged to have hyperlinks with the alliance, had been redacted.

Defence lawyer Philip Dykes stated he couldn’t say “how sturdy or weak” the alleged hyperlinks had been and that made mitigation troublesome.

Vigil banned in 2020

The annual vigil organized by the alliance was the one large-scale public commemoration of the June 4 crackdown on Chinese language soil and was attended by large crowds till authorities banned it in 2020, citing anti-pandemic measures.

Chow, together with two different former alliance leaders, Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho, had been charged with inciting subversion of state energy beneath the safety legislation in 2021. The alliance itself was charged with subversion.

The nationwide safety legislation criminalizes secession, subversion, and collusion with international forces to intervene within the metropolis’s affairs in addition to terrorism. Many professional-democracy activists had been silenced or jailed after its enactment in 2020.

In a separate case, Elizabeth Tang, who was arrested for endangering nationwide safety earlier this week, was launched on bail on Saturday. Tang is a veteran labour activist and likewise Lee’s spouse.

A woman walks out from a building holding a coat.
Elizabeth Tang, centre, the previous chief govt of the now-disbanded pro-democracy group Hong Kong Confederation of Commerce Unions, walks out of a police station in Hong Kong on Saturday. Former vice-chairperson Leo Tang is behind her. (Louise Delmotte/The Related Press)

In a press release Thursday that didn’t present a reputation, police stated that they had arrested a 65-year-old girl on Hong Kong Island for suspected collusion with a international nation or with exterior parts to hazard nationwide safety. It stated she was being detained for investigation.

“I really feel clueless as a result of my work is at all times about labour rights and organizing commerce unions. So I do not perceive why I used to be accused of breaking the legislation and endangering nationwide safety,” she informed reporters on Saturday after being launched.

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