Hong Kong demonstrators yelled out-of-court anti-government slogans as more than two dozen high-profile democracy campaigners gathered over a banned vigil to mark the attack on Tiananmen Square.
Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers defied a ban on protests to mark the anniversary of the deadly repression of students calling for democracy by Beijing. The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the past three decades and normally draws massive crowds, but this year’s meeting was prohibited for the first time with the authorities citing coronavirus initiatives-while local dissemination was effectively halted.
The group of defendants represents a large segment of the pro-democracy movement, ranging from Jimmy Lai, a 72-year-old media titan to younger activists like Joshua Wong. The 26 suspects are convicted of either engaging in an illegal meeting or inciting people to join. The punishment for the incitement holds up to five years in prison.
In fact, Ahead the ceremonial tribunal, demonstrators assembled at West Kowloon Magistrates ‘ Courts to yell slogans and raise banners that protested their right to hold a Tiananmen vigil. To lament June 4 is not a felony, read one poster while another said: Oppose government trials, Government repression of dissent.
The vigil, historically held in Victoria Park, has in recent years taken on new importance as the semi-autonomous city chafes under highly authoritarian rule of Beijing. Mr Lee added: The repression experienced on 4 June 1989 by leftists is very close to what the people of Hong Kong have experienced in the past year. Many of those accused face separate charges linked to the massive and sometimes violent pro-democracy demonstrations that took place last year.
The law is directed at subversion, rebellion, insurgency and international collusion, including life term terms. But its large term, such as a ban on promoting hate against the government of China, has sent terror rippling through a city that was used to being able to speak out.