Hong Kong police have informed media tycoon Jimmy Lai and organisers of the annual Tiananmen Massacre vigil that they will face incitement charges in connection with an unauthorised assembly in Causeway Bay last Thursday.
Thousands had defied a police ban to gather in Victoria Park to mark 31 years since the crackdown in Beijing. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died when the People’s Liberation Army were sent to end the student-led democracy movement on June 4, 1989.
Police issued a letter of objection to the assembly organisers, citing Covid-19 social distancing measures restricting public gatherings to no more than eight people.
Vigil organiser the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China said on Thursday evening its chairman Lee Cheuk-yan, vice-chair Albert Ho and secretary Richard Tsoi would be prosecuted for “inciting others to knowingly take part in an unauthorised assembly” at the Victoria Park fountain.
Tsoi said he was “infuriated” by the prosecution, whilst Lee slammed the charges as having a “chilling effect” on pro-democracy figures. Lee added Hong Kong citizens are entitled to enjoy the right of assembly under the Basic Law.
Lai — founder of pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily — will face the same charges, the alliance said. The media mogul is involved in four other cases, including one count of criminal intimidation. He applied to change his bail conditions so that he could leave Hong Kong, but the court rejected the application on Friday.
The alliance trio and Lai will have their cases mentioned at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on June 23.