Hong Kong was the only city in China to hold a large-scale annual vigil commemorating the Tiananmen Massacre this year. Despite 30 years of annual Tiananmen memorials, the Hong Kong government banned this year’s event, citing COVID-19 concerns.
In spite of the ban, thousands of Hong Kong residents flooded Victoria Park in protest. Now, more than two months after the event, pro-democracy activists have been charged for taking part.
Hong Kongers flock to Victoria Park to honor #TiananmenMassacre anniversary with a candle light vigil – despite government’s cancellation of the annual event for the first time in 31 years. pic.twitter.com/8ad4VZTfyp
— The Epoch Times Hong Kong (@EpochTimesHK) June 4, 2020
At least 24 activists are charged with “knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly,” reported pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong. Members of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, including Chairman Lee Cheuk-yan, were additionally charged with “inciting others to participate in an unauthorized assembly.” The activists were informed of their charges by police on Aug. 6.
The prominent 23-year-old activist, Joshua Wong, was also charged with taking part in the assembly.
“Clearly, the regime plans to stage another crackdown on the city’s activists by all means,” Wong wrote in response to the charges on Twitter.
[I was prosecuted by the Government again just because of commemorating Tiananmen Square Massacre]
1/ Months after the Tiananmen Square vigil this year, I was just informed by Hong Kong Police that they will charge me with “knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly”. pic.twitter.com/jBQiwXjLtc
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) August 6, 2020
Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Vigils were a byproduct of the city’s civil freedoms under its one country, two systems agreement with mainland China. Its basic law promised civil liberties such as the right to vote, gather in protest, and speak freely. Hong Kong’s Annual Tiananmen Vigils were the largest in the world.
This year’s cancellation of the Tiananmen vigil was announced the same day Hong Kong’s legislative council passed the National Anthem Law. The controversial law also criminalizes disrespect for the Chinese National Anthem. Soon after, the Chinese Communist Party passed the National Security Law, criminalizing any perceived act of secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces.
Critics of the law voice concern over the government employing the law to quash dissent after a year of protests. Last week, the Hong Kong government charged six pro-democracy activists under its National Security Law, including a U.S. citizen currently residing in the United States.