Three leaders are currently being held in custody. Chow Hang Tung, a prominent barrister and the vice-chair of the pro-democracy group, failed to secure bail in the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Friday. The chair Lee Cheuk-yan and the vice-chair Albert Ho are already in jail for their roles in unauthorized assemblies in 2019 and did not apply for bail.
They were accused of inciting other people to “organize, plan, commit or participate in acts by unlawful means with a view to subverting the state power” under the national security law.
When asked whether they understood the charge in the court, Chow said, “[I] understand, this is a ridiculous allegation.”
Last June, the Chinese regime inserted the national security law into the former British mini-constitution, Basic Law. The draconian regulation criminalizes four broadly defined categories of offenses, including secession, subversion, and collusion with a foreign country.
The group itself, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movements of China, was also charged with inciting subversion.
The Alliance is known for organizing the city’s annual candlelight vigil to memorialize the victims of the bloody massacre at Tiananmen Square in China, the center of the capital Beijing. On June 4, 1989, the communist regime’s leader sent troops to quash the protesting students who called for a more open society.
The former British colony had been the only place on Chinese soil having large-scale public commemorations, although the Hong Kong police have been banning the vigils for the past two years, citing the pandemic.
The Hong Kong police had characterized the Alliance as a foreign agent, requesting it hand over its membership, operation, and finances before Sept. 7.
The group strongly denied the accusation and said that it would not cooperate with the police at the press conference.
Chow and her colleagues, Tang Ngok-kwan, Leung Kam-wai, Chan To-wai, and Tsui Hon-kwong were arrested on Sept. 8 for “failure to comply with the submission requirements” under Article 43 of the national security law.
The five refused to plead guilty.
The Secretary of the Security said in a letter on Friday he would give the Alliance two weeks to explain why it shouldn’t be struck off the Companies Register. The group will be dissolved once the security bureau releases the removal notice.
The police’s national security department had already frozen $283,000 worth of assets belonging to the group.
Prosecutor Anthony Chau Tin-hang applied to adjourn the case to allow further investigation into the confiscated USB sticks, computers, and tablets. On Thursday, the police seized devices in a raid of the group’s premises, including the June 4th Museum.
The next hearing for the case is scheduled for Oct. 28. Under the national security law, people who are found guilty of incitement to commit secession could face five to 10 years in jail.
Tong Ying-kit, the first person charged under the law, was sentenced to nine years in prison. He was convicted of inciting secession and terrorism after he drove a motorcycle carrying a banner bearing the slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times” in a 2020 protest.
More than 100 people have been arrested under the national security law, leading to more than 60 charges—mostly against Democratic politicians, activists, journalists, and students.
Don’t Accept the Fate
Chow said on her Facebook page on Friday, if the resistance could win back more time and space for the like-minded, “I believe it’s worth it.”
“As long as we still have the will to fight, we have not lost,” the post read.“Hong Kongers, don’t accept the fate.”
A former group member, Richard Tsoi, attended the hearing in a black T-shirt reading “people will not forget.”
“I can only say that I hope Hongkongers will continue to uphold our conscience and keep concern for social affairs, and that everyone will continue to pay attention to the current situation in Hong Kong,” he said when asked whether he worried about his own situation.
Ye Zeyu, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.