Acton Institute Powerblog

9 Hong Kong activists sentenced to 10 months over participation in Tiananmen Square Massacre vigil

(Image credit: Associated Press)

The sentences are the latest in the Chinese Communist Party’s, or CCP’s, relentless pursuit of absolute control, which simultaneously smothers any hint of dissent, including freedoms of speech and assembly. […]

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Nine Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were sentenced Sept. 15 to 10 months in prison for their participation in the annual vigil for the commemoration of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Twelve defendants total pled guilty earlier this month to their involvement in the vigil that commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, when Chinese troops fired at student protesters participating in pro-democracy protests.

The sentences are the latest in the Chinese Communist Party’s, or CCP’s, relentless pursuit of absolute control, which simultaneously smothers any hint of dissent, including freedoms of speech and assembly.

Nine activists were charged with taking part in unauthorized assembly, while seven of them face additional charges of inciting others to participate in the event. Both actions violate Hong Kong’s National Security Law, or NSL.

Last year’s vigil was banned, with police citing its violation of COVID policy. Still, thousands of people fled to the gated Victoria Park, against police warning, lighting candles, singing songs, and remembering those who were killed by Chinese troops.

After last year’s vigil, 20 activists were arrested. Several of the arrested activists faced charges under the NSL, including the leader of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movements in China, Lee Cheuk-yan. Another notable person charged after the vigil is longtime Acton friend and Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai, as well as Figo Chan, the former leader of the now-disbanded Civil Rights Human Front. Both Lai and Cheuk-yan have pled guilty to the unauthorized assembly charges and are set to stand trial in November.

Other prominent pro-democracy activists like Joshua Wong previously pled guilty over their participation in last year’s vigil and were handed sentences between four and 10 months.

Just last week, in another attempt to censor any memory of the massacre, several members of the Alliance that organized and participated in the vigil were arrested, after they refused to provide information for a police investigation.

The NSL bans what the CCP deems as subversion, secession, or terrorism. Since its passage in June 2020, over 100 activists have been arrested.

Kara Wheeler

Kara Wheeler is a member of the Acton Institute’s 2021 Emerging Leaders class. She is a senior at Aquinas College majoring in in English and Journalism. She loves to write, partake in any sport she can, and can be found either on the water or in downtown Grand Rapids.