Tiananmen crackdown vigil leaders stand trial in Hong Kong

Kyodo News

Posted at Sep 10 2021 07:08 PM

Leung Kam-wai, one of the arrested members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China is escorted by police as they leave after police search the June 4th Museum, which commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, in Hong Kong on September 9, 2021. Tyrone Siu, Reuters
Leung Kam-wai, one of the arrested members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China is escorted by police as they leave after police search the June 4th Museum, which commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, in Hong Kong on September 9, 2021. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

Three leaders of a pro-democracy group in Hong Kong known for its yearly vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown stood trial on Friday for charges of inciting subversion of state power under the national security law.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China and three of its leaders committed the crime of inciting others to "organize, plan, commit or participate in acts by unlawful means with a view to subverting the state power" under the law, a charge punishable by up to 10 years in prison, between July 1 last year and Sept. 8 this year, prosecutors alleged.

At the first hearing held at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts, one of the leaders, vice chairwoman Tonyee Chow, said, "I understand that this is a ridiculous allegation" when she was asked if she understood the charge.

Chow on Friday also faced trial on a separate charge of failure to comply with a police request to provide information on its operations to national security authorities after she and four others rejected the request.

The group organizing the vigil on June 4 had also operated a museum to preserve the historical memory of the Tiananmen Square crackdown until it was shut down in August following a licensing investigation by authorities.

On Thursday, the police raided the June 4th Museum and confiscated documents, computers and promotional materials in connection to the charges, according to local media reports.

The security authorities have also frozen HK$2.2 million ($282,900) worth of the group's assets, according to a police statement.

Last month, the group passed a resolution to disband, citing mounting suppression from the authorities as Beijing continues its efforts to crack down on dissent in the city.

The vigil on June 4, which had drawn hundreds of thousands of people annually since it was held in 1990, was banned for the second consecutive year by the police, citing public health concerns. Officials have warned that participating in or promoting the rally is illegal.

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