HONG KONG, China, 6 May 2021
Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was sentenced to more jail time Thursday for participating in an unauthorized vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, as Hong Kong authorities exert more control over dissent in the city.
For years, Hong Kong was the only place in China where people were allowed to mark the anniversary of Beijing’s crushing of the Chinese democracy movement.
Despite the commemoration being banned for the first time last year, thousands of protesters defied authorities and proceeded to Victoria Park to light candles and sing songs. Police who were present at the vigil warned the protesters they may be breaking the law but made no arrests on the day itself.
Wong and three district councilors had pleaded guilty to knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly, and could have faced a maximum of five years in prison. Twenty other people face charges over the Tiananmen vigil but have not entered pleas.
Wong, who rose to prominence as a student activist and was the face of the 2014 pro-democracy protests, is already in jail after being convicted of illegal assembly in other protests and was sentenced to an additional 10 months. Councilors Lester Shum, Jannelle Leung and Tiffany Yuen received sentences that range from four to six months for the Tiananmen vigil.
Wong was also among the 47 activists charged under the city’s sweeping national security law for taking part in unofficial primary elections held last year by the pro-democracy camp to determine candidates to field in the legislative elections, which were later postponed.
Authorities have launched an intense crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong following months of anti-government protests in 2019. In addition to the new national security law, the criteria for elections has been changed and many outspoken democracy advocates have been jailed.
“We are very disappointed in how our courts have been failing to safeguard our rights to peaceful assembly, safeguard our rights to freedom of expression,” said Chow Hang-tung, vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organizes the annual Tiananmen vigil.
“The courts keep on stressing that none of has more freedom than others, but it’s not, we are not seeking more freedom than others, we are seeking our guaranteed rights under our constitution, under the Basic Law, under the Bill of Rights,” she said.
The Basic Law is Hong Kong’s mini-constitution and promises civic freedoms not allowed on the mainland. Democracy activists say those freedoms have been all but erased in the recent crackdown.
Chow urged Hong Kong people and others around the world to continue remembering the Tiananmen crackdown by lighting a candle on 4 June, wherever they are.
On the night of 3-4 June 1989, Chinese military tanks and troops moved into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to break up weeks of student-led protests that had spread to other cities and were seen as a threat to Communist Party rule. Hundreds and possibly thousands of people were killed.
Hongkong’s resistance to takeover by Beijing before the period of special status finished is now a story great tragedy!
Britain should have known that once Hongkong’s sovereignty was handed to China, Beijing decides the fate and future of Hongkong even agreement.
Should Britain have sought for American intervention for a more secure deal for HK? Yes. It should have known that future of Hongkong will be on precarious slope. Perhaps Britain for its own interest wanted to get over Hongkong’s affairs soon. So Britain washed it’s hands off.
When handover of Hongkong was taking place American honeymoon with China was on so forgetting or ignoring China’s ideological opposition to liberal West was and is as fundamental as Soviet Union’s ideological competition with America. American assumption that the assumption that economic development and welfare would change ideology and value system of authoritarian China was highly inaccurate.
Now Hongkong’s takeover is complete except on paper, the degree of freedom in Hongkong is same as that exists in China of CCP!
The pro-democracy activists bravely fought not to allow freedom to die in Hongkong in front of their eyes. But when fight is between a brave cat and vicious tiger, outcome was foregone conclusion!
Now Beijing wants to punish the activists posthumously. The punishment will be brutal and jail terms for some could be longer than their life. How? Multiple jail terms for multiple crimes of one activist can add up longer than victim’s life.
The principles of justice does not Exists in China. The govt is both prosecutor and judge!
America and West are sympathetic to fate of Hongkong. But what can they do in reality? Very little now. Waiting is even worse! China is too big for the stick and too…