Ten Hong Kong Democrats Plead Guilty to Tiananmen Vigil Charges

Albert Ho, Leung Kwok-hung and Eddie Chu are among those who plan to plead guilty to charges linked to the banned candlelight vigil in Victoria Park.
Reported by Gigi Lee and Luo Yanyun.
2021-07-23
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Ten Hong Kong Democrats Plead Guilty to Tiananmen Vigil Charges Hong Kong residents place candles on a railing following a vigil commemorating the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, June 4, 2020.
AFP

Ten democratic politicians and activists have said they will plead guilty to 'illegal assembly' charges for attending a gathering marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre in Hong Kong.

The defendants, who include former lawmakers Albert Ho, Eddie Chu and Andrew Wan, were among a group of 26 people facing charges linked to attendance at a banned candlelight vigil for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre last year.

Cheung Man-kwong, Figo Chan and Kwok Wing-kin, along with former lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung and former district councilors Chiu Yan-loy, Leung Kwok-wah and Mak Hoi-wah, also said they would plead guilty.

Prosecutors said in the District Court on Friday that pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai, who is already serving jail time for charges linked to the 2019 protest movement, would be pleading not guilty.

Lai is also awaiting trial for "collusion with a foreign power" under a draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from July 1, 2020.

Some of the defendants waved to friends and supporters in the public gallery, with onlookers observing that many had lost weight while in prison.

Twelve out of the 20 defendants are now expected to officially plead guilty at trial on Sept. 9.

The trial will likely last for two days, with the prosecution calling 21 witnesses, with all hearings conducted in English.

"Actually, I'm fairly calm because many of my comrades-in-arms, Lee Cheuk-yan, Chow Hang-tung and so on, are already in prison or on remand," Kwok told reporters before going into the court.

"So many unimaginable things have befallen Hong Kong in the past few months, and I think the main thing everyone can do is to be prepared to face the persecution that is coming," he said.

Some of the 26 defendants -- including veteran protest leader and pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong -- took early guilty pleas and are already serving sentences ranging from four to 10 months' imprisonment.

Former lawmaker Nathan Law has fled the city to begin a new life in the United Kingdom.

Supporters of a pro-democracy union pose with illustrations of sheep outside West Kowloon Court in Hong Kong, July 23, 2021. AFP
Supporters of a pro-democracy union pose with illustrations of sheep outside West Kowloon Court in Hong Kong, July 23, 2021. AFP
Sedition charges

Meanwhile, a national security judge on Friday placed two people behind bars after they were arrested in connection with the publication of a series of children's book about sheep, deemed "seditious" by the authorities.

Lai Man-ling, 25, chairwoman of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, and Melody Yeung, 27, the union’s vice-chairwoman, have been charged with "conspiracy to print, publish, distribute, display or reproduce seditious publications."

Police and prosecutors claim the books, about a village of sheep defending itself against wolves, were intended to "incite hatred against the government and judiciary."

Lai and Yeung were imprisoned on remand after being denied bail by chief magistrate Victor So at West Kowloon Magistrate's Court.

Supporters gathered outside, wearing cartoon masks representing the sheep, in protest at the case.

Police have warned that more charges could be brought against Lai, Yeung and others involved in the case, which saw the speech therapists' union raided, five officers arrested, and more than 500 copies of the books confiscated on July 22.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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