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Prominent Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

Prominent Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

AFP
Hong Kong
Thirteen prominent Hong Kong democracy activists appeared in court on Monday charged with holding an unauthorised gathering to mark the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the latest in a string of prosecutions against protest leaders in the restless financial hub.
Last month tens of thousands of Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown against students pushing for democracy.
The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the last three decades and usually attracts huge crowds. It has taken on particular significance in recent years as the semi-autonomous city chafes under Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
But thousands turned out to hold candles in their neighbourhoods and in Victoria Park, the traditional site of the vigil.
Police later arrested 13 leading activists who appeared at the Victoria Park vigil.
All appeared in court on Monday to be formally charged with “inciting” an unlawful assembly, which carries up to five years in jail.
Among them are Jimmy Lai, the millionaire owner of the openly pro-democracy Apple newspaper, veteran democracy activists such as Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho as well as young campaigner Figo Chan.
When asked if he understood the charge, Lee invoked the hundreds who were killed by Chinese tanks and soldiers at Tiananmen.
Earlier this month Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law aimed at stamping out the demonstrations once and for all.
Monday’s court appearance coincided with the third anniversary of the death of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in custody since Nazi Germany.
Liu was arrested in 2009 and charged with “inciting subversion of state power”, later dying of cancer.
Those charged in Hong Kong on Monday held up pictures of him before going into court.

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