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Hong Kong Police Arrest Organizers of Annual Tiananmen Square Vigils

Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China Vice-Chairwoman Tonyee Chow is seen inside a vehicle after being detained in Hong Kong, Sep. 8, 2021.

Four members of a Hong Kong group that organizes the annual observances of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown were arrested Wednesday after refusing to cooperate with a police investigation into its activities.

Chow Hang Tung, a barrister and vice president of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, was detained at her office in the city’s central business district. Chow was scheduled to represent Gwyneth Ho, an opposition politician, in a bail hearing Wednesday. Ho has been charged with conspiracy to commit subversion.

The Alliance identified the other detained members as Simon Leung, Sean Tang and Chan To-wai.

Police last month ordered the group to turn over all information about its finances, membership and activities by September 7, accusing it of colluding with foreign agents. However, the Alliance formally informed police on Tuesday, the day of the deadline, that it had no intention of cooperating because police had not provided any evidence behind the allegation.

Authorities released a statement late Tuesday warning that anyone who refuses to comply would face up to six months in jail and more than $12,000 in fines.

The Hong Kong Alliance has been hosting an annual candlelight vigil in the city’s Victoria Park in remembrance of the deadly June 4, 1989 crackdown of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square by Chinese soldiers. For the past two years, authorities have banned the vigils citing pandemic restrictions.

Hong Kong’s national security law, approved by Beijing in response to the massive and often violent anti-government protests in 2019, punishes anyone believed to be carrying out terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces with sentences up to life in prison if convicted.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters and Agence France Presse.