Jimmy Lai and two other pro-democracy activists were convicted Thursday for their roles in last year’s banned Tiananmen candlelight vigil under the new law that criminalizes unauthorized assembly.
Convicted activists: Lai, along with vice chairperson of the disbanded Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China Chow Hang-tung and activist and former reporter Gwyneth Ho, were convicted for taking part in or inciting others to join the candlelight vigil in 2020, according to CBS News.
- They are among 24 Hong Kong activists who were convicted because of their involvement in the gathering, which took place at Victoria Park on June 4 last year, during which thousands of people gathered to light candles and sing songs in the park, despite police warnings that they may be breaking the law.
- Lai, the founder of the disbanded Apple Daily tabloid, was already behind bars after being sentenced to a total of 14 months in prison in April on charges related to other demonstrations held in 2019. He was also convicted of two more charges in April, when he was accused of conspiring to collude with foreign powers and helping activists escape the city.
An attack on rights: Large crowds have previously gathered at Victoria Park for The Hong Kong Alliance’s annual Tianmen remembrance candlelight vigil for decades prior to last year when authorities banned the protest, citing social distancing restrictions and COVID-related public health risks.
- The gathering was again legally banned this year.
- “The Hong Kong government has once again flouted international law by convicting activists simply for their involvement in a peaceful, socially distanced vigil for those killed by Chinese troops on 4 June 1989,” said Kyle Ward, Amnesty International’s deputy secretary general, in a statement to CBS News. “These convictions merely underline the pattern of the Hong Kong authorities’ extreme efforts to exploit the law to press multiple trumped-up charges against prominent activists.”
- Ward added that prosecuting people who mourn and remember the victims of the Tiananmen Square protest is an “egregious attack on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.”
- Most of the activists who have been charged over the banned vigil had pleaded guilty.
Pro-democracy activists have urged supporters to boycott going to the polls in early December in defiance of the law that criminalizes incitement against the government, including those from abroad.