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Tiananmen Vigil Organizers Charged With Subversion

Hong Kong police seize items from June 4 museum
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 10, 2021 2:49 AM CDT
Hong Kong Arrests Organizers of Annual Tiananmen Vigil
Chow Han Tung, vice chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, center, is escorted by police in a van to a court, in Hong Kong, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.   (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

(Newser) – 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 AP reports. The alliance itself was also charged with subversion.

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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 large-scale 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 coronavirus pandemic, although critics believe the ban is part of the crackdown on dissent Beijing and Hong Kong's leaders have waged following months of anti-government protests in the territory in 2019. Authorities have now characterized the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China as a foreign agent, and sought details about the group's operations and finances in connection with its alleged activities and links with democracy groups overseas.

Police on Thursday confiscated computers, documents, and promotional materials from the closed June 4 museum, which was run by the alliance to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown. On Friday, a Facebook post was posted on Chow's account urging Hong Kongers not to "accept their fate." "As long as we still have the will to fight, we have not lost," the post said. (Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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