(HONG KONG) — Hong Kong tycoon and prominent pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai and two others were convicted Thursday for their roles in last year’s banned Tiananmen candlelight vigil, amid a crackdown on dissent in the city and Beijing’s tightening political control.
Chow Hang-tung was a vice-chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. Lai and Gwyneth, an activist and ex-journalist, were convicted of either participating in the 2020 candlelight vigil or inciting others.
These 24 activists were among those who were arrested for their participation in an illegal assembly that took place in Victoria Park last June 4, 2013. Thousands of people came together to sing and light candles in the park, despite warnings from police they might be violating the law.
The Hong Kong Alliance previously organized a candlelight vigil in the city’s Victoria Park on June 4 each year to mark the bloody crackdown on protesters campaigning for more democracy in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Authorities banned protests last year for the first-time in 30 years. They cited social distancing restrictions as well as public health risk due to coronavirus. The protest was also suspended this year.
Before the ban, huge crowds attended an annual candlelight vigil. It was the sole large-scale public memorial on Chinese soil to the 1989 crackdown at Beijing.
Lai was convicted inciting others, while Ho was convicted in knowingly taking part in the assembly. Chow, who was a barrister and participated in the vigil, was found guilty.
Three of the accused had already pleaded not guilty, and were sentenced to prison at a later time.
Many of those activists that were charged in connection to the banned vigil had already pleaded guilty. Joshua Wong was one such activist. He was also sentenced for 10 months jail time due to his involvement in the vigil. After previously being convicted on other charges related his activism, Wong was already serving the time in prison.