(New York) – The Hong Kong government should immediately drop all charges against Chow Hang-tung, the organizer of the annual Victoria Park Vigil that commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, 74 international organizations and individuals said today in a letter to Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng.
“Hong Kong authorities are wrongfully detaining and prosecuting Chow Hang-tung because she plays a leading role in reminding Hong Kong people and the world of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Massacre,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Hong Kong authorities appear bent on suppressing activists who tell the Chinese government what they don’t want to hear.”
Hong Kong police banned the 2021 vigil, ostensibly for Covid-19 control. On June 4, the police arrested Chow, a 36-year-old barrister and the vice chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance, for “inciting unauthorized assembly” after she urged people to mark the Tiananmen Massacre by lighting candles and said she would do so in a public space. The authorities released Chow on June 5, but detained her again on June 30.
Facing heightened official pressure and threats of arrest and prosecution, the Hong Kong Alliance terminated its staff and downsized its operations. Nearly two dozen other civil society groups have also disbanded as Beijing imposed the draconian National Security Law and carries out a comprehensive crackdown on the city.
“The continued detention of Chow Hang-tung sends a message to the world that the government views even the most peaceful, solemn form of protest as a threat,” Wang said.