Jimmy Lai, 2 Other Hong Kong Activists Convicted Over Tiananmen Square Massacre Vigil

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai and two other prominent pro-democracy activists were convicted on Thursday for their participation in a Tiananmen vigil in June 2020. Lai, as well as rights lawyer Chow Hang-tung and former opposition politician and former journalist Gwyneth Ho, were found guilty of unauthorized asssembly charges over the vigil. Hong Kong normally holds the world’s largest annual June 4 vigils to commemorate the hundreds or potentially thousands of innocent lives lost on June 3 and 4, 1989, after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ordered its troops to open fire on pro-democracy activists at and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The three had pleaded not guilty to having incited others to participate in the event. Thousands of locals had defied the ban and gathered for the June 4, 2020, vigil. The event was banned in 2020 and 2021 by Hong Kong police, citing restrictions related to the CCP virus, which causes the disease COVID-19. This year, the CCP imposed a ban on all Tiananmen Square massacre commemorations in Hong Kong or Macau. Lai, Chow, and Ho are already behind bars, alongside dozens of other activists, facing separate charges under Hong Kong’s national security law imposed by Beijing in mid-2020 following large-scale democracy protests in the Chinese-ruled territory. Dozens of activists have been arrested, or jailed, or fled Hong Kong since then. Chow Hang Tung, vice-chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Democratic Patriotic Movements of China poses after an interview in Hong Kong, on May 24, 2021. (Vincent Yu/AP Photo) Chow was arrested in June this year and charged with subversion, a crime under the national security law, for her involvement in organizing the Tiananmen vigil. Ho was arrested in January alongside 52 other pro-democracy activists, charged with “subversion”  under Article 22 of the national security law, for participating in the 2020 Hong Kong pro-democracy primaries in July 2020. Lai, who was arrested in August 2020 on allegations of having violated the national security law, owned Apple Daily, a widely-read pro-democracy tabloid newspaper that was critical of the CCP. A man gestures as he brings copies of the final edition of Apple Daily, published by Next Digital, to a newsstand in Hong Kong, on June 24, 2021. (Lam Yik/Reuters) The paper closed in June 2021 after Hong Kong police raided its properties. Next Digital, the paper’s parent company, announced in September it was going into liquidation. The company’s assets had been frozen as part of a national security investigation. Later in September, Lai was awarded the 33rd annual Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center for his courage and conviction in exercising freedom of speech, nonviolent resistance, and peaceful dissent. Previously he was awarded the Freedom of Press Award by Reporters Without Borders in December 2020. Lily Sun contributed to this report. Follow Mimi Nguyen Ly is an assignment editor and world news reporter based in Australia. She has a background in optometry. Contact her at [email protected]

Jimmy Lai, 2 Other Hong Kong Activists Convicted Over Tiananmen Square Massacre Vigil

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai and two other prominent pro-democracy activists were convicted on Thursday for their participation in a Tiananmen vigil in June 2020.

Lai, as well as rights lawyer Chow Hang-tung and former opposition politician and former journalist Gwyneth Ho, were found guilty of unauthorized asssembly charges over the vigil.

Hong Kong normally holds the world’s largest annual June 4 vigils to commemorate the hundreds or potentially thousands of innocent lives lost on June 3 and 4, 1989, after the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ordered its troops to open fire on pro-democracy activists at and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The three had pleaded not guilty to having incited others to participate in the event.

Thousands of locals had defied the ban and gathered for the June 4, 2020, vigil.

The event was banned in 2020 and 2021 by Hong Kong police, citing restrictions related to the CCP virus, which causes the disease COVID-19. This year, the CCP imposed a ban on all Tiananmen Square massacre commemorations in Hong Kong or Macau.

Lai, Chow, and Ho are already behind bars, alongside dozens of other activists, facing separate charges under Hong Kong’s national security law imposed by Beijing in mid-2020 following large-scale democracy protests in the Chinese-ruled territory.

Dozens of activists have been arrested, or jailed, or fled Hong Kong since then.

Chow-Hang-Tung
Chow Hang Tung, vice-chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Democratic Patriotic Movements of China poses after an interview in Hong Kong, on May 24, 2021. (Vincent Yu/AP Photo)

Chow was arrested in June this year and charged with subversion, a crime under the national security law, for her involvement in organizing the Tiananmen vigil.

Ho was arrested in January alongside 52 other pro-democracy activists, charged with “subversion”  under Article 22 of the national security law, for participating in the 2020 Hong Kong pro-democracy primaries in July 2020.

Lai, who was arrested in August 2020 on allegations of having violated the national security law, owned Apple Daily, a widely-read pro-democracy tabloid newspaper that was critical of the CCP.

Apple Daily
A man gestures as he brings copies of the final edition of Apple Daily, published by Next Digital, to a newsstand in Hong Kong, on June 24, 2021. (Lam Yik/Reuters)

The paper closed in June 2021 after Hong Kong police raided its properties. Next Digital, the paper’s parent company, announced in September it was going into liquidation. The company’s assets had been frozen as part of a national security investigation.

Later in September, Lai was awarded the 33rd annual Liberty Medal by the National Constitution Center for his courage and conviction in exercising freedom of speech, nonviolent resistance, and peaceful dissent. Previously he was awarded the Freedom of Press Award by Reporters Without Borders in December 2020.

Lily Sun contributed to this report.


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Mimi Nguyen Ly is an assignment editor and world news reporter based in Australia. She has a background in optometry. Contact her at [email protected]