Hong Kong court docket guidelines police ban on Tiananmen vigil illegal, overturning conviction of distinguished activist

Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Excessive Courtroom dominated on Wednesday {that a} choice by police to ban a Tiananmen sq. vigil final yr was “unlawful,” thereby overturning an earlier conviction in opposition to jailed pro-democracy activist Chow Hold-tung, who helped arrange the occasion.

For 3 a long time, Hong Kong has been the one place on Chinese language-controlled soil allowed to publicly commemorate the occasions in and round Tiananmen Sq., throughout which unarmed largely scholar protesters have been massacred by Chinese language troops in 1989. Victoria Park, a big swath of open space within the crowded Hong Kong metropolis heart, has been the default venue the place the candle vigil has been held.

Since large pro-democracy protests embroiled Hong Kong in 2019 and the restrictive Nationwide Safety Regulation was then imposed on the town, Tiananmen vigils have been banned – with police citing pandemic restrictions as the rationale. Since then, solely small crowds of individuals have come out in defiance of authorities – holding small vigils within the presence of police.

Chow is the previous chairwoman of the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance, which since 1990 has organized the town’s annual candlelight vigil commemorating Tiananmen’s victims.

In January, Chow was convicted by a decrease court docket for inciting others to knowingly take part within the 2021 vigil banned by the police and was sentenced to fifteen months behind bars.

People hold candles as they walk near the Victoria Park on June 4, 2021 in Hong Kong.

Particularly, she was discovered responsible of incitement by publishing social media posts and an area newspaper article titled “candlelight carries the weight of conscience, and the Hong Kong people persevere in telling the truth,” in line with the decrease court docket verdict.

On the time, she was already serving a 12-month sentence for taking part within the 2020 Tiananmen vigil.

The Excessive Courtroom upheld the decrease court docket’s ruling with respect to Chow’s intention to name on folks to affix the vigil, however overturned its closing verdict on the idea that the police ban on the vigil in 2021 was not authorized as they didn’t “proactively and seriously consider” methods to facilitate a public gathering – regardless of the pandemic – which was required by regulation.

Supplied that the ban was not legitimate, Chow’s articles now not represent a criminal offense and thus her conviction was nullified on attraction.

Chow stays in custody as she faces additional prosecutions, together with nationwide safety expenses that carry as much as a decade in jail.