Accessibility links

Breaking News

9 Hong Kong Activists Sentenced for Taking Part in Banned Vigil

FILE - Various defendants including pro-democracy activists, Albert Ho, center, and Yeung Sum, right, arrive at a court in Hong Kong, May 17, 2021.

Nine Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were sentenced to several months in jail for taking part in an unauthorized candlelight vigil in observance of the brutal 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on student protesters.

The nine defendants include such figures as Albert Ho and Figo Chan, who were sentenced earlier this month to lengthy sentences for taking part in an unauthorized demonstration in October 2019 at the height of anti-government protests triggered by a controversial extradition bill that evolved into a greater demand for greater freedoms for the financial hub.

The nine defendants pleaded guilty earlier this month for attending the 2020 candlelight vigil which authorities banned, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The vigil had traditionally been held every year to commemorate the June 4,1989 crackdown on student-led pro-democracy protests staged in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, where they called for an end to official corruption, political reforms and a more fair and open society.

Human rights groups believe as many as several thousand people were killed when tanks rolled through Tiananmen Square to squelch the demonstrations.

The nine activists were handed sentences ranging between six and 10 months in jail. Three other defendants who also pleaded guilty for taking part in last year’s vigil received suspended sentences.

The 2019 demonstrations prompted Beijing to approve a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong last year under which anyone believed to be carrying out terrorism, separatism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces could be tried and face life in prison if convicted.

Hong Kong authorities have increasingly clamped down on the city’s pro-democracy forces since the law took effect last year.

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