Members of HK Tiananmen vigil group arrested

Four key members of the group behind Hong Kong's annual Tiananmen Massacre vigil were arrested Sept. 8. The arrests came the morning after the activists publicly refused a police demand for information as part of a "national security" probe into the 32-year-old group. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China said its vice-chair Chow Hang-tung and committee members Simon Leung, Tang Ngok-kwan and Chan To-wai were arrested in the early-morning raid on the June 4 Memorial Museum. Police confirmed the arrests, saying the four, aged between 36 and 57, are being held for failing to comply with Article 43 of the National Security Law, which compels cooperation with investigations. The police had requested information from the group in a letter late August under provisions of Article 43. The force also alleged that the group had been working with foreign agents, a potential violation of the Beijing-imposed legislation. (HKFP, The Guardian)

Tiananmen vigil group leader denied bail

A Hong Kong court denied bail to barrister Chow Hang-tung, vice-chair of the group behind the city's annual Tiananmen Massacre vigil, after she was charged under the Beijing-imposed National Security Law.

She appeared alongside the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movements of China chair Lee Cheuk-yan and fellow vice-chair Albert Ho at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court on Sept. 10. The three, along with the Alliance itself, were charged under the security law for allegedly inciting subversion.

Lee and Ho, who are both serving sentences for other protest-related charges, did not apply for bail. Chow made an application representing herself, but was denied bail. (HKFP)

HK activists convicted over banned Tiananmen Massacre vigil

Three Hong Kong pro-democracy figures  have been convicted of charges linked to last year's banned Tiananmen Massacre vigil: media mogul Jimmy LaiChow Hang-tung of the now-defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, and activist Gwyneth Ho. The three were among thousands who defied a ban and took part in the vigil last June. They are to be sentenced Dec. 13, and face a maximum of five years in prison for the charge of participating in and "inciting" an unlawful assembly. More than two dozen politicians and activists have been charged over their participation; apart from these three, they all pleaded guilty.

Outside the courthouse were rival rallies—one in support of the defendants, the other calling for heavy sentences against them. The support rally held signs wishing Jimmy Lai a happy birthday; the imprisoned tycoon turned 74 this week.

The founder of the now-defunct pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper, Lai was already serving sentences over other charges, as well as awaiting trial under the security law. (HKFP, BBC News, PRI)

HK: Tiananmen vigil defendants sentenced

A Hong Kong court sentenced eight pro-democracy activists to prison for organizing, taking part in, or inciting others to participate in last year's banned Tiananmen Massacre vigil.

Former leaders of the now-defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China—including chair Lee Cheuk-yan, vice-chairperson Chow Hang-tung, executive committee member Simon Leung, as well as liquidator Richard Tsoi—were among the eight defendants appearing in the District Court.

The other defendants appearing before Judge Amanda Woodcock were media mogul Jimmy Lai, former lawmakers Leung Yiu-chung and Wu Chi-wai, and activist Gwyneth Ho. Each of the defendants were handed terms of between six weeks and 14 months behind bars. All the defendants apart from Chow, Lai, and H, pleaded guilty to the charges last month.

Lai received 13 months—despite the fact that he only briefly turned up at the event and lit a candle. Judge Woodcock found that this counted as "inciting" people to join an unlawful assembly because of his notoriety.

Upon her sentencing, Chow told the court that the prosecutions "one step in the systemic erasure of history, both of the Tiananmen Massacre and Hong Kong's own history of civic resistance." (HKFP, HKFPNYT, AFP)

Hong Kong's Tiananmen Square monument removed

A famous "Pillar of Shame" at the University of Hong Kong marking the Tiananmen Square massacre has been removed. It was one of the few remaining public memorials in Hong Kong commemorating the incident. The university had initially ordered the removal of the statue in October. "The decision on the aged statue was based on external legal advice and risk assessment for the best interest of the university," the university said in a statement on Thursday. (BBC News)

Where is the Pillar of Shame?

This tweet from Hong Kong social media group Studio Incendo indicates it has been put in a shipping container in an outdoor area of a Hong Kong University agricultural research station.

HK: another pro-democracy site forced to close

A vocal pro-democracy website in Hong Kong shut down on Dec. 29 after police raided its office and arrested seven editors, board members and a journalist. Those detained were charged with "conspiracy to publish seditious publications." Stand News said in a statement that its website and social media are no longer being updated, and will be taken down. "Because of the situation, Stand News is ceasing operations immediately," the statement said. It added that all employees have been dismissed. The site was one of the last pro-democracy news outlets in Hong Kong after newspaper Apple Daily ceased publication earlier this year. (EuroNews, BBC News)

HK: another pro-democracy site forced to close

Citing concerns for the safety of its reporters amid Hong Kong's ongoing crackdown on pro-democracy journalism, independent media outlet CitizenNews announced the decision to shutter its operations Jan. 2. The move comes five years from the day the news outlet was established with the aim of advancing press freedom in Hong Kong.

"[On] New Year’s Day in 2017…[a]gainst the backdrop of growing worries about Hong Kong's press freedom, some of our founders, who are veteran journalists, held a press conference to launch our online media platform. We hoped CitizenNews could live up to the spirit of professionalism, to report the news in the way we have always aspired to, and more importantly to serve the public and greater public good," the outlet wrote in its farewell message. (Jurist)

Ex-organizer of HK Tiananmen Massacre vigil imprisoned

A former leader of the now-defunct group that organized Hong Kong's annual Tiananmen Massacre vigils has been been ordered imprisoned for 15 months after she was found guilty of inciting others to take part in last year's banned commemoration.

Former vice-chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China and barrister Chow Hang-tung was convicted and sentenced on Jan. 4 by magistrate Amy Chan at the West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts. (HKFP)

Veteran Hong Kong journalist Allan Au arrested

Hong Kong veteran journalist Allan Au was arrested by national security police on April 11. Mocal news outlet Sing Tao cited sources saying that Au was arrested for allegedly conspiring to publish seditious materials, under colonial-era anti-sedition legislation. The arrest is said to be linked with the Stand News case. (HKFP)

Hong Kong court grants bail to ex-lawmaker

Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance on Aug. 22 granted bail to Albert Ho Chun-yan, a former lawmaker and the former vice chair of the Hong Kong Alliance, who had been held for a year in a national security case.

Charged under the National Security Law last September, Ho has been in custody since May last year, when he was sentenced over protest-related charges. He completed his term last month for those offenses—including some linked to the banned 2020 Tiananmen vigil—but remained in custody because of the national security charge. (Jurist, HKFP)

HK court dismisses bid to block Jimmy Lai from hiring UK lawyer​

Hong Kong’s Court of Appeals on Nov. 21 dismissed a bid by prosecutors to prevent Jimmy Lai, a pro-democracy media entrepreneur charged with violating the controversial National Security Law (NSL), from having a UK barrister on his legal defense team. In October, Lai pleaded not guilty on NSL collusion charges. (Jurist)

HK: Apple Daily staffers plead guilty in national security case

Six former staff members of Hong Kong pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily and its parent company Next Digital pleaded guilty Nov. 22 to a charge of "conspiracy to commit collusion" in a landmark NSL case. Appearing before a panel of National Security judges were ex-CEO of Next Digital Cheung Kim-hung, Apple Daily's ex-editor-in-chief Ryan Law, ex-associate publisher Chan Pui-man, ex-executive editor-in-chief Lam Man-chung, ex-editor-in-chief of the English news section Fung Wai-kong, and ex-editorial writer Yeung Ching-kee. 

They were accused of conspiring with Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai, and three companies linked with the defunct newspaper—Apple Daily Limited, Apple Daily Printing Limited, and AD Internet Limited—to "commit collusion with a foreign country or with external elements." The prosecution, led by Anthony Chau, said that some defendants will testify in the upcoming trial against Lai, which is set to begin next week. The sentencing of the six is to come after Lai's trial. (HKFP)

Yet another prison term for Jimmy Lai

Jimmy Lai, founder of defunct pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, has been sentenced to five years and nine months after being convicted of fraud. Lai was found to have breached the terms of lease at the newspaper's headquarters after concealing the operation of a consultancy firm at the building.

Wong Wai-keung, who was the administrative director of Apple Daily's parent company Next Digital, was sentenced to 21 months.

Lai was found guilty of two counts of fraud on Oct. 25. He has been in custody since December 2020, and also faces charges under colonial-era sedition legislation and the National Security Law.

The court ruled that Lai had violated the terms of the lease for Apple Daily's headquarters by concealing the operation of Dico Consultants Limited (Dico) from the landlord, the Hong Kong Science & Technology Park Corporation (HKSTP), from 1998, to 2020. The lease had specified that the premises should be used for printing and publishing newspapers or magazines only. (HKFP)

HRW urges release of Jimmy Lai and co-defendants

Human Rights Watch released a statement demanding the immediate released of Hong Kong "pro-democracy media tycoon" Jimmy Lai and six of his co-defendants. Lai is currently serving a 20-month prison sentence in Hong Kong for his participation in a vigil commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. A Hong Kong court added almost six additional years to Lai's sentence on Dec. 10 after Lai was convicted on fraud charges.

The co-defendants are journalists have been charged with "collusion with foreign forces" unde the National Security Law imposed on Hong Kong in June 2020.

Maya Wang, associate Asia director of HRW, stated, "Beijing seems intent on imprisoning one of its most powerful critics for many years, possibly for the rest of his life." (Jurist)

HK court dismisses Jimmy Lai challenge to ban on UK lawyer​

A Hong Kong court on May 19 dismissed an attempt by jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai to overturn a decision barring his British lawyer from representing him in an upcoming trial under the National Security Law. Lai had sought a judicial review after Hong Kong's National Security Committee ruled that allowing barrister Timothy Owen to represent him could itself pose risks to national security. The committee advised against approving Owen’s visa application. (Jurist)