HomeWorld NewsHong Kong: Activist gets 15 month term for Tiananmen vigil

Hong Kong: Activist gets 15 month term for Tiananmen vigil

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Image caption,

Activist Chow Hang Tung received a second conviction over her role in the banned Tiananmen protests in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy Hong Kong activist Chow Hang Tung has been found guilty of organising a 2021 vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

She was convicted on charges of inciting others to take part in an unauthorised assembly.

Hong Kong authorities have banned the vigil for two straight years, citing Covid restrictions.

Last month Chow received a 12-month sentence for inciting and taking part in a similar vigil in 2020.

Chow was vice chairwoman of the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance (HKA), which organised annual vigils for the victims of Beijing’s brutal crackdown on democracy protesters on 4 June 1989.

She was arrested on the morning of 4 June last year after she published two pieces, calling on residents to light candles and mark the anniversary.

The court ruled on Tuesday that those articles amounted to inciting others to defy the police ban on the vigil.

“The law never allows anyone to exercise their freedom by unlawful means,” magistrate Amy Chan said, according to AFP.

Chow, a trained barrister who had represented herself during the trial, had pleaded not guilty. She defended herself by saying she wanted to “incite others not to forget June 4,” not encourage a gathering.

However, the judge dismissed her argument, calling it “simply unbelievable.” She added Chow’s academic qualifications would have allowed her to be clearer in her writing.

Chow appeared defiant during the hearing, using her mitigation on Tuesday to read from the memoirs of families of people killed at Tiananmen before being admonished by the judge.

“It can be foreseen that the public space to discuss June 4 will disappear entirely,” she told the court after the verdict. “Tyranny is greedy, red lines will keep expanding.”

Of her fresh sentence of 15 months, five months will run concurrently with her previous sentence. This means she will spend a total of 22 months in prison.

Hong Kong was formerly one of the only places in Chinese territory where people could commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown.

Huge crowds would gather in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park each year to mark the anniversary.

International condemnation ensued after troops and tanks opened fire on protesters with estimates of the dead varying from a few hundred to several thousand.

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Chow Hang-tung spoke to the BBC in 2021, weeks before her arrest on 4 June.

Media caption,

Lighting a candle for Tiananmen and Hong Kong freedoms

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