The Hong Kong protesters behind the Tiananmen Vigil were jailed for months

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Hong Kong — Three former organizers of Hong Kong’s annual vigil to commemorate the victims of China’s 1989 crackdown on anti-democracy protests were jailed for four and a half months on Saturday for failing to provide information to the group. according to national security law.

Chow Hang-tung, Tang Ngok-kwan and Tsui Hon-kwong were arrested in 2021 during a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement after mass protests more than three years ago. They were leaders of the Hong Kong Federation which supports democratic movements in China and were found guilty last week.

The now-defunct alliance was famous for organizing candlelight vigils in Hong Kong on the anniversary of the 1989 Chinese military crackdown on Tiananmen Square anti-democracy protests, but was voted to dissolve in 2021 under the national security umbrella imposed by Beijing. law

Supporters say its closure shows that the freedoms and autonomy promised when Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 are eroding.

Before his release, police had sought details of his activities and finances in connection with alleged links to pro-democracy groups abroad, accusing him of being a foreign agent. But the group refused to cooperate, arguing that the police had no right to ask for their information because it was not a foreign agent and that the authorities did not provide sufficient justification.

Under the implementing regulations of the security law, the chief of police can request a range of information from a foreign agent. Failure to comply with the request could lead to six months in prison and a fine of 100,000 Hong Kong dollars ($12,740) if convicted.

In his mitigation, Chow said the federation was not a foreign agent and nothing had emerged to prove otherwise, so the sentence was about punishing people for the truth protection

She said that national security is being used as a reason to wage war on civil society.

“Sir, punish us for our irrationality if you must, but when the exercise of power is based on lies, being irrational is the only way to be human,” she said.

Handing down the sentences, Chief Justice Peter Law said the case was the first of its kind under the new law and that the sentence must send a clear message to society that the law does not tolerate any breaking .

Law, who was approved by the city manager to oversee the case, said he saw no reason to reduce the sentence to four and a half years.

The annual vigil organized by the federation was the only large-scale public commemoration of the June 4 outbreak on Chinese soil and was attended by large crowds until authorities banned it in 2020, citing anti-epidemic measures. – distributed

Chow, along with two other former federation leaders, Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho, were accused of inciting a coup d’état under the security law in 2021. The federation itself was accused of fraud .

The national security law criminalizes secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces to intervene in the country’s affairs as well as terrorism. Many anti-democracy activists were silenced or jailed after its implementation in 2020.

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