Tiananmen Square activists in Hong Kong flout police demands

Tiananmen Square activists in Hong Kong flout police demands
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Organizers of Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen Square memorial vigil said Sunday they won’t cooperate with police despite threats of fines and imprisonment of its members, the Associated Press reported. 

Authorities said they notified the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (HKASPDMC) in August that it was under investigation for working with foreign interests — part of a crackdown on dissent as China’s Communist Party increasingly exerts its influence over the city-state.

The group's vice chairwoman, Chow Han Tung, denied those accusations in a press conference and said the police intimidation of civil society groups, under a new national security law, set a bad precedent.

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“The alliance strongly denies that we are any foreign agents,” Chow said. “We are an organization that was founded during the 1989 democratic movement, it was founded by the Hong Kong people.”

Authorities responded to the group’s announcement with a warning and reiterated their demand for information about “certain foreign agents” although they did not name anyone specifically.

“Endangering national security is a very serious crime,” the city’s Security Bureau said in a statement, adding that not handing over the requested information could lead to fines or imprisonment.

The investigation is part of a broad crackdown on Hong Kong civil society following mass pro-democracy protests in 2019. Authorities have tightened control over the city with the sweeping national security law, which effectively criminalizes opposition to the Chinese government.

The law and other changes have forced several civil organizations to disband, and led to the arrest of more than 100 pro-democracy protesters, according to the AP. The law ostensibly prohibits secession, terrorism, and foreign collusion to interfere with city government.

Hong Kong has historically allowed the June 4 commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Small crowds still have gathered for the vigil for the last two years, even with police banning it due to COVID-19 restrictions.