mandag 1. november 2021

Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai goes on trial over Tiananmen vigil

The trial of eight pro-democracy activists, including Apple Daily newspaper founder Jimmy Lai, who were charged over their roles in an unauthorised Tiananmen vigil last year began on Monday. Lai and the seven others, including Lee Cheuk-yan, the former chairman of the now defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, face charges of organising, participating and inciting others to take part in the unauthorised candlelight vigil commemorating the bloody 1989 crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

On Monday five of the group, including Lee, pleaded guilty, according to the South China Morning Post. Lai, activist Gwyneth Ho, and former alliance vice-chair, Chow Hang-tun, pleaded not guilty. Chow told the court she understood “every word being uttered” in the reading of the charges against her, “but I do not understand why it constitutes an offence”. “That is why I plead not guilty,” she said.

The eight previously pleaded not guilty. The trial is expected to last 10 days.

Police last year banned the annual vigil for the first time in three decades, citing public health risks from the coronavirus pandemic. Critics believe the ban is part of the crackdown on opposition in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory after months of anti-government protests in 2019.