On the 6 August, 24 pro-democracy figures were charged for their participation in the banned June 4 Vigil marking the anniversary of China’s 1989 Tiananmen crackdown according to media reports, resulted in a total of 25 pro-democracy figures being charged over the June 4 Vigil. They were accused of three charges: holding, knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly and inciting others to attend an unauthorised assembly. All charged are expected to appear in court on 15 September.
The charged include leading figures of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (“the Alliance”), former and current lawmakers, 2020 LegCo candidates, district councilors, and an owner of a pro-democracy media outlet. They are: 1) Joshua Wong, 2) Nathan Law, 3) Lester Shum, 4) Tiffany Yuen, 5) Jannelle Rosalynne Leung, 6) Gwyneth Ho, 7) Sunny Cheung, 8) Eddie Chu, 9) Leung Kwok-hung, 10) Wu Chi-wai, 11) Leung Kwok-wah, 12) Cyd Ho; and 13) Lee Cheuk-yan, 14) Albert Ho, 15) Richard Tsoi, 16) Jimmy Lai, 17) Chow Hang-tung, 18) Cheung Man-kwong, 19) Mak Hoi-wah, 20) Andrew Wan, 21) Chiu Yan-loy, 22) Leung Yiu-chung, 23) Leung Kam-wai, 24) Steven Kwok and 25) Figo Chan.
Of the 13 indicated who already faced incitement charges handed down in June over the same event, 12 were additional charged with “knowingly taking part in an unauthorised assembly” (expect Jimmy Lai); the remaining 12 received their first summonses over the same charge, 8 among them are the pro-democracy candidates for the postponed Legislative Election. The chairperson of the Alliance, Lee Cheuk-yan, was also accused of “holding an unauthorised assembly” (see Appendix for their charges in details). He alone faced three charges in total.
As mentioned in the previous brief report on the June 4 Vigil , Civil Rights Observer reaffirms that exercising the right to freedom of peaceful assembly shall not be seen as a reasonable ground for any prosecution, and reiterates that the authorities failed to fulfil their positive obligation to facilitate peaceful assembly as well as to balance the need for public health protection and the right to freedom of assembly. Citing the Prevention and Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) to ban the vigil, while the authorities took no further action to stop or disperse people from entering the park except making announcements to notify the participants that the assembly had been banned. A peaceful and in principle lawful assembly thus turned into an illegal and unauthorised assembly due to the inaction of the government. The selective prosecution that followed further creates chilling effect and poses a substantial threat to citizens’ enjoyment of freedom of assembly.
Civil Rights Observer is of aware of those newly charged, as they are mostly pro-democracy candidates of the legislative election, former lawmaker, and current district councilors, calls into question the motivation behind the charges whether it is another political repression came a week after the mass disqualification of pro-democracy candidates.
Civil Rights Observer calls on the authorities to withdraw the summons and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly by fulfilling their positive obligation to proactively facilitate the public gathering.
Note 1: Report on the 31st Anniversary Assembly of the June 4 Incident, available at: https://bit.ly/2PxXtgE
Appendix I: https://bit.ly/2DLvBTv