Hong Kong court imprisons three Tiananmen memorial group members

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Hong Kong Alliance Vice-Chairman Tony Chow Hantong, who supports China’s Patriotic Movement, is seen inside a car after being detained in Hong Kong, China, Sept. 8, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Jessie Pang and James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Three former members of a Hong Kong group that organized an annual memorial service to commemorate China’s 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square failed to comply with national security police requests for information was sentenced to four and a half months in prison on Saturday.

Chow Han Tong, 38, a prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and former vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Coalition, which supports China’s patriotic nationalist movement, was among those convicted by the magistrate’s court. .

The other two were Tan Ngoc Kwang and Tsui Hong Kwon.

Justice of the Peace Peter Rowe said that while “national security is of great importance to the public interest and to the nation as a whole”, he was given a detention sentence of less than six months’ maximum if charged. I handed it over.

The now-disbanded Alliance was the main organizer of Hong Kong’s June 4 candlelight rally for victims of China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown. Tens of thousands of people gathered for the public commemoration of

After prosecutors applied for “public interest immunity,” some key details of the case were redacted, including overseas organizations and individuals allegedly associated with the Alliance.

Before sentencing, Chow was defiant, but criticized the “political” nature of the case she described and the court’s decision to withhold key facts.

“We will continue to do what we have been doing: fight falsehood with truth, outrage with dignity, secret with frankness, madness with reason, division with solidarity. We will fight these injustices, whether in court or from a prison cell,” said Chow from the dock in a speech interrupted several times by the law.

The Alliance was accused by prosecutor Ivan Chan as a “foreign agent” of the organization after receiving HK$20,000 ($2,562.69) from the organization.

Defense attorney Philip Dykes said the “not knowing the identity” of an alleged foreign government or entity was highly unusual and made any mitigation difficult given the foreign attorney’s allegations. .

While handing down the verdict on March 4, the law said prosecutors were not required to prove that the target entity was a “foreign agent” and that non-disclosure of materials would not undermine a fair trial. .

The National Security Act, which criminalizes acts including subversion and collusion with foreign powers, has been criticized by some Western governments as a means of stifling dissent.

The Hong Kong and Chinese governments say the law has brought stability since it was enacted in 2020 in response to mass pro-democracy protests in 2019.

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