For the second time, the Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Chow Hang-tung was found guilty on Tuesday, January 4, of having incited to participate in a forbidden vigil in tribute to the repression of Tiananmen, only a few months after a first conviction.
The 36-year-old lawyer was one of the leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance, an association which organized an annual vigil in tribute to the victims of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing on June 4, 1989 in Tiananmen Square. .
For more than three decades, every June 4, tens of thousands of people gathered to participate in these vigils of remembrance. But since the huge pro-democracy protests of 2019 and Beijing’s takeover of Hong Kong, these vigils are prohibited. In 2020 and 2021, the Hong Kong police had banned the holding of these gatherings, citing the Covid-19 epidemic and security threats.
“Lighting a candle is a crime”
Chow Hang-tung was arrested on June 4, 2021 after publishing two articles calling on residents to light candles and commemorate the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.
On Tuesday, a court sentenced her to fifteen months in prison after ruling that her articles amounted to inciting people to defy the police ban.
“The message this verdict sends is that lighting a candle is a crime, that words are a crime”, Chow Hang-tung told court. “The only way to defend freedom of expression is to continue to speak out”, she added. “The real crime is to cover the murderers with laws and to erase the victims in the name of the state. “
Indicted for breaking national security law
Chow Hang-tung is already serving a one-year prison sentence after being sentenced a few months ago for inciting in 2020 to attend a Tiananmen vigil. She will have to spend twenty-two months behind bars, according to the new calculation made by the court.
The pro-democracy activist has also been indicted for violating the drastic national security law, which carries possible imprisonment for life.
Many activists, including Chow Hang-tung, have already been sentenced to prison terms for violating this ban in 2020.
Faced with pressure, the Alliance association of Hong Kong voted in September to dissolve it. The June 4 Museum dedicated to the Tiananmen repression in 1989, managed by the Hong Kong Alliance, was forced to close in June.
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Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong: Chow Hang-tung sentenced a second time for commemorating the repression