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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Hong Kong court docket convicts activists behind Tiananmen vigil

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HONG KONG — Three Hong Kong activists from a now-defunct group that organized annual vigils commemorating China’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters have been convicted on Saturday for failing to supply authorities with info on the group in accordance with a nationwide safety regulation.

Chow Cling-tung, Tang Ngok-kwan and Tsui Hon-kwong have been arrested in 2021 throughout a crackdown on the town’s pro-democracy motion following large protests greater than three years in the past. They have been leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Assist of Patriotic Democratic Actions of China earlier than it disbanded below the shadow of the Beijing-imposed regulation.

The alliance was finest identified for organizing candlelight vigils in Hong Kong on the anniversary of the Chinese language navy’s crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Sq. pro-democracy protests. Critics say its shutdown has proven freedoms that have been promised when Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 are eroding.

Earlier than the group voted to disband, police had sought particulars about its operations and funds in reference to alleged hyperlinks to democracy teams abroad in August 2021, accusing it of being a international agent.

However the group refused to cooperate, arguing police have been arbitrarily labeling pro-democracy organizations as international brokers. It added the police didn’t have a proper to ask for its info as a result of it was not a international agent and the authorities didn’t present ample justification.

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Below the safety regulation’s implementation guidelines, the police chief can request a spread of data from a international agent. Failure to adjust to the request may end in six months in jail and a tremendous of 100,000 Hong Kong {dollars} ($12,740) if convicted.

On Saturday, principal Justice of the Peace Peter Regulation dominated the defendants have been obliged to reply the discover served to them, which he referred to as “sound and authorized,” and their non-compliance was unjustified.

The alliance had been actively working with numerous entities and folks overseas, Regulation mentioned, so it was essential to discover their dealings and connections to find out their affiliation and supreme function.

“Such requirement for info was nothing like a broad-brush fishing train however quite was constrained when it comes to durations of time and nature,” he mentioned. “The police had taken an abstemious and self-restrained strategy.”

Throughout earlier authorized proceedings, the court docket ordered a partial redaction of some info after prosecutors argued {that a} full disclosure of data would jeopardize an ongoing probe into nationwide safety {cases}.

The undisclosed particulars in a redacted police report submitted to the court docket embody the names of teams that have been alleged to have hyperlinks with the alliance.

“Leaking of secret info, akin to identities, methods and interim investigation outcomes of others would undoubtedly critically jeopardize the continued investigation,” Regulation mentioned on Saturday.

The annual vigil organized by the alliance was the one large-scale public commemoration of the June 4th 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, have been charged with inciting subversion of state energy below the safety regulation in 2021. The alliance itself was charged with subversion.

The nationwide safety regulation criminalizes secession, subversion, and collusion with international forces to intervene within the metropolis’s affairs in addition to terrorism. Other than the activists, pro-democracy writer Jimmy Lai can be dealing with collusion costs below the regulation, which has already jailed or silenced many dissidents.

In Beijing, Wang Chao, spokesperson for the Nationwide Folks’s Congress, China’s legislature, hailed the enactment of the regulation in 2020 as an essential milestone within the follow of the “one nation, two methods” governing precept.

The precept guarantees the previous British colony the best to retain its personal political, social and monetary establishments for 50 years after the 1997 handover.

“Hong Kong has had a serious flip from chaos to stability,” he mentioned.

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