San Francisco Chronicle
Tiananmen vigil leaders charged with subversion
HONG KONG — Three leaders of the group that organized an annual Tiananmen candlelight vigil were being held in custody Friday after they were charged with subversion under Hong Kong’s national security law, as authorities intensify a crackdown on dissent in the city.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China’s chairman Lee Cheuk-yan, as well as vice-chairs Albert Ho and Chow Hang-tung were charged with inciting subversion of state power under the national security law. The alliance itself was also charged with subversion.
Chow was denied bail, days after she was arrested for failing to comply with a police request for information. Lee and Ho are currently serving jail sentences for their roles in unauthorized assemblies in 2019.
For the past 30 years, the alliance organized the candlelight vigil that saw tens of thousands of people mass in the city’s Victoria Park to commemorate China’s bloody military crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
It was the only largescale public commemoration of the crackdown on Chinese soil, featuring crowds of people lighting candles and singing songs to support democracy.
Police have banned the vigils for the past two years citing the virus pandemic, although critics believe the ban is part of the crackdown on dissent Beijing and Hong Kong’s leaders have waged following antigovernment protests in the territory in 2019.
The five pleaded not guilty Friday, and were denied bail. The next court hearing will take place Oct. 21.
Police on Thursday confiscated computers, documents and promotional materials from a closed June 4 museum, which was run by the alliance to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown.
On Friday, a Facebook post on Chow’s account urged Hong Kongers not to “accept their fate.”
Over the past year, dozens of activists have been arrested, others have left for exile abroad, and the city has amended electoral laws to increase the number of seats for pro-Beijing legislators while reducing those that are directly elected.