At least 24 folks in Hong Kong have been charged with participating in a banned candlelight vigil on 4 June to mark the anniversary of China’s 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was amongst these charged with “participating in an unauthorised meeting”.
Hong Kong has lengthy been the one place on Chinese soil the place a commemoration of the crackdown is allowed.
But it was banned this yr, with authorities citing coronavirus fears.
It got here weeks earlier than a controversial nationwide safety regulation got here into pressure, criminalising acts of anti-Beijing protest which might see Hong Kong residents despatched to mainland China for trial.
It’s led to fears that the territory’s freedoms are being eroded. Critics had earlier mentioned that it might led to pro-democracy protesters within the area being given life sentences.
What fees do they face?
Hong Kong police mentioned in a press release that 24 folks – 19 males and 5 ladies between the ages of 23-69 – had been charged with holding and knowingly participating in an unauthorised meeting.
This cost existed earlier than the nationwide safety regulation got here into pressure on 30 June.
Mr Wong and at the least six different activists together with Nathan Law – who has since left for London – have been charged. Some of these charged are already dealing with fees of incitement over the vigil.
Media tycoon Jimmy Lai, a frequent critic of Chinese management, has additionally been charged.
“Clearly, the regime plans to stage one other crackdown on the town’s activists by all means,” Mr Wong, who can also be dealing with fees for one more protest, mentioned on Facebook.
“As our voices may not be heard quickly, we hope the world can proceed talking up for the town’s liberty and human rights.”
All these charged are anticipated to look in court docket on 15 September.
What was the Tiananmen Square crackdown?
On 4 June 1989, troops and tanks opened hearth on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing – estimates of the lifeless fluctuate from just a few hundred to a number of thousand.
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Hong Kong and Macau are the one elements of China which have been allowed to mark the day. In mainland China, authorities ban even indirect references the occasions of 4 June.
This yr, Hong Kong authorities banned the vigil for the primary time in 30 years, citing coronavirus measures.
Under Hong Kong’s guidelines then, solely teams of eight folks have been allowed to collect.
But on 4 June, hundreds of protesters defied this ban and went forward to stage a mass vigil anyway. Others joined in remotely.
One attendee mentioned she was afraid it could be the final time Hong Kong might have a ceremony.
“We are afraid this would be the final time we are able to have a ceremony,” Brenda Hui had mentioned.
“But Hong Kongers will at all times bear in mind what occurred on June 4.”