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'Political Nature' Of 1989 Hong Kong Arrests: China's Efforts To Remove Tiananmen Legacy

On Saturday, the Hong Kong magistrate court announced prison sentence against three former members of the group that organised the Hong Kong annual vigil.

| Written By
Bhagyasree Sengupta
Hong Kong

Image: AP

The Hong Kong magistrate court on March 11 announced a prison sentence against three former members of the group that organised the Hong Kong annual vigil to mark the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown by the Chinese authorities. According to the Japanese news outlet Nikkei Asia, the pro-democracy activists were sentenced to four and a half months in prison. The court announced the prison sentence on Saturday after the former organisers “failed to provide authorities proper information,” in accordance with national security law. Many critics are calling the arrests "political" as they believe that the court disregarded many key components involved in the case. 

The protestors named Chow Hang-tung, Tang Ngok-kwan and Tsui Hon-kwong were arrested in 2021 during a crackdown on the city’s pro-democracy movement. Tung, a 38-year-old activist, was the former vice-chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. The group was found guilty last week over the infamous vigil. The now-defunct alliance was known for organising a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong on the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre every year. The group was disbanded in 2021 under China-imposed national security law, Nikkei Asia reported.

'Political nature' of the arrests

The 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown was the dark side of Chinese history. The brutal crackdown by the draconian Chinese administration has not only led to the death of hundreds of people, but the Chinese administration has also imposed stringent censorship measures to make sure that the incident gets wiped out from history books. However, the pro-democracy protesters have kept the memories of the brutal massacre alive in one way or another. One of the major hindrances to these annual vigils of the incident is the draconian National Security Law imposed in the region.

The security law criminalises the “secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces to intervene in the city’s affairs”. In the Saturday case, the Alliance was accused by the prosecutor, Ivan Cheung, of being a “foreign agent”. The Hong Kong prosecutors accused the activists of working with an unidentified organisation from which they were receiving an alleged HK $20,000 (USD 2,563). Last year, the group funded and organised the vigil that garnered public attention. However, the Hong Kong authorities quickly oppressed the protestors and took action against them. The vigil was attended by several prominent personalities including Hong Kong business tycoon Jimmy Lai. 

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