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Monday, December 5, 2022

Jimmy Lai Convicted for Taking Part in Tiananmen Vigil

Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong media magnate, and two other notable campaigners were convicted guilty of participating in a vigil commemorating the Tiananmen Square tragedy.

For encouraging and participating in an unlawful assembly, Lai, Gwyneth Ho, and Chow Hang Tung were found guilty.

They were among the hundreds who broke a restriction to attend a vigil remembering the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing last June.

It has resulted in the indictment of nearly two dozen politicians and activists.

Because they elected to dispute their accusations, the trio was the last to get their verdict. They claimed during their trial that they lighted lights during the vigil in their own capacity and that they had not “incited” anyone to join the unofficial demonstration.

Judge Amanda Woodcock of the District Court dismissed the claims as “frankly ridiculous,” and stated their involvement “was an act of disobedience and protest against the police.”

They risk a potential penalty of five years in jail if found guilty of engaging in an unlawful assembly on December 13th.

Lai was the creator of Hong Kong’s now-defunct Apple Daily newspaper and has been a vocal advocate of the city’s pro-democracy movement. He was imprisoned earlier this year for participating in pro-democracy demonstrations.

Ho is a former journalist who became an opposition politician, while Chow is a former lawyer who served as vice chairwoman of the now-defunct Hong Kong Alliance, which organized the annual vigil.

Both are in custody and have been denied bail because they are facing various accusations, some of which are covered by a tough national security statute imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong last year.

The yearly vigil has been held in Hong Kong for decades, bringing tens of thousands of people to commemorate the 4 June 1989 massacre of nonviolent democratic protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square by Chinese military. After soldiers and tanks opened fire on protestors, international outrage followed.

Hong Kong used to be one of the only areas in China where the tragedy could still be honored or even discussed; mainland China is extremely sensitive about the incident, prohibiting any commemorative ceremonies and removing any mentions from social media.

However, for the first time in 30 years, Hong Kong authorities prohibited the vigil in 2020, citing Covid limitations. Activists accused officials of caving in to Beijing’s efforts to silence pro-democracy voices.

Hundreds of thousands disregarded the restriction to join the vigil that night, tearing down barricades placed around Hong Kong’s Victoria Park.

The prohibition on the vigil was maintained this year, with a more subdued response.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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