UncategorizedHong Kong Police Arrest Organizers of Tiananmen Square Vigil

Hong Kong Police Arrest Organizers of Tiananmen Square Vigil

HONG KONG — A Hong Kong group that organizes vigils for the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown said several of its leaders were arrested on Wednesday after it refused to provide information for a police investigation.

The group, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, said the police had sought details about its funding and membership for an inquiry into whether it was acting in collusion with foreign powers, a violation of the city’s national security law.

Under the law, which was imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong last year, the police have broad powers to demand information from groups and individuals.

At least four members of the group were detained on Wednesday, including its vice chairwoman, Chow Hang Tung. Ms. Chow documented her impending arrest on Facebook, noting that the police had arrived at her door. “Does anybody have any parting words they’d like to share with me?” she wrote.

On Sunday, speaking to reporters, Ms. Chow rejected any suggestion that the group was acting on behalf of foreign powers. “If you must say that we are agents of anything, we are the agents of the Hong Kong people’s conscience,” she said.

Ms. Chow said the police had requested information dating to the group’s founding in 1989, during the Tiananmen protest movement, but they had provided no explanation for why the group was suspected of violating the law.

“This is absurd and an abuse of power,” Ms. Chow said.

“They are trying to intimidate the people who participate in social movements,” she added. “We will now clearly state that this sort of intimidation will stop at us. We will not transmit that fear through our compliance.”

Since the national security law went into effect, more than 150 people have been arrested under it and more than 60 charged, including many of Hong Kong’s most well-known opposition politicians and activists. Prominent civil society groups have disbanded this year, including the Civil Human Rights Front, which organized large-scale protests, and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union.

The Hong Kong Alliance has faced increasing scrutiny, including questions over whether it received funds from overseas. On Tuesday, the alliance sent a letter to the police formally rejecting the request for information.

Chris Tang, Hong Kong’s security secretary, said the authorities would move quickly in response. Mr. Tang said that he believed the details of any security law violations by the group would eventually be made public in court if the authorities pursued charges.

“Foreign agents include those who receive money support from overseas political parties or political organizations, and then act to the benefit of those foreign organizations,” he said. “I think it’s very clearly stated in the law.”

The Hong Kong Alliance hosts an annual vigil in Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island to remember those killed during the crackdown on the Tiananmen protest movement in 1989. The Chinese military killed hundreds or possibly thousands of demonstrators.

The vigil often attracted thousands of participants. Some joined last year despite an official ban on gatherings because of the pandemic. Efforts to mark the anniversary in the park this year were largely blocked by a vast police presence.

On the morning of June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, Ms. Chow was also arrested and later charged with inciting others to participate in an unauthorized assembly.

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