Hong Kong Democracy activist Chow Hang-tung was re-arrested for Tiananmen vigil

Imprisoned Democracy activist Chow Hang-tung on Tuesday accused Hong Kong courts of criminalizing speeches and helping authorities erase the Tribal Peace men when she was convicted a second time of inciting people to commemorate the deadly event.

Chow, a 36-year-old lawyer who has represented himself in several court hearings with often fiery condemnations from the bridge, is a former leader of the Hong Kong Alliance.

The now disbanded group used to organize the city’s huge annual vigils to mourn those killed in Beijing on June 4, 1989, when China sent troops to crush democracy protests.

Hong Kong police have banned the last two election vigils with reference to the coronavirus and security fears, and courts have already detained several activists who defied that 2020 ban, including Chow.

Chow was also arrested on the morning of June 4 last year because of two pieces she published, urging residents to light candles and mark the strike’s anniversary.

On Tuesday, a court sentenced her to 15 months in prison after ruling that her articles meant she encouraged others to defy the police ban.

“The message that this verdict sends is that it is obligatory to light a candle, that words are obligatory,” Chow said in court.

“The only way to defend freedom of speech is to keep expressing,” she added.

“The real crime is to cover up murderers with laws and to erase victims in the name of the state.”

Hong Kong was previously the only place in China where mass memorial service for Tiananmen was tolerated, but Beijing has reshaped the city into its authoritarian image after huge and sometimes violent democracy protests in 2019.

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Chow has proven to be an outspoken defendant throughout her indictment.

She used her mitigation on Tuesday to read from the memoirs of families of people killed in Tiananmen’s homeland.

It triggered a dismay from referee Amy Chan, followed by applause among some in the stands. Chan then ordered police to take down the identity numbers of those who had applauded.

“The law never allows anyone to exercise their liberty by illegal means,” Chan said.

“She (Chow) was determined to attract and publish attention in order to urge the public to come together,” she added.

During the verdict, Judge Chan said Chow was “complacent”, showed no remorse and used the courtroom to air his political views.

Chow has already served a 12-month sentence for her previous conviction in connection with the Men of Heavenly Peace, but she will now be imprisoned for a total of 22 months according to the court’s new calculation.

She has also been charged with national security offenses that could lead to life in prison.

Hong Kong Alliance leaders, including Chow, are among dozens of activists charged under the National Security Act who have criminalized much dissent.

A museum run by the group has been closed down while several statues in memory of June 4 have been demolished in recent weeks from the university campus.

An official campaign has also been launched to clear the city of “anti-China” elements and people considered unpatriotic.

School and university courses are being rewritten to promote greater patriotism towards China at the same time as critical media have raided the police and closed.

In mainland China, censors have long scrutinized what happened in Tiananmen Square, both online and in the real world.


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