At least 24 folks in Hong Kong have been charged with collaborating 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 “taking part in an unauthorised assembly”.
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 stated that it might led to pro-democracy protesters within the area being given life sentences.
What fees do they face?
Hong Kong police stated in an announcement that 24 folks – 19 males and 5 ladies between the ages of 23-69 – had been charged with holding and knowingly collaborating 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 another crackdown on the city’s activists by all means,” Mr Wong, who can be dealing with fees for an additional protest, stated on Facebook.
“As our voices might not be heard soon, we hope the world can continue speaking up for the city’s liberty and human rights.”
All these charged are anticipated to look in courtroom on 15 September.
What was the Tiananmen Square crackdown?
On 4 June 1989, troops and tanks opened fireplace on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing – estimates of the lifeless range from just a few hundred to a number of thousand.
Hong Kong and Macau are the one components 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 rules then, solely teams of eight folks had been allowed to assemble.
But on 4 June, 1000’s of protesters defied this ban and went forward to stage a mass vigil anyway. Others joined in remotely.
One attendee stated she was afraid it might be the final time Hong Kong might have a ceremony.
“We are afraid this will be the last time we can have a ceremony,” Brenda Hui had stated.
“But Hong Kongers will always remember what happened on June 4.”