The vice-chair of the group behind Hong Kong’s annual June 4 vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre has been arrested for allegedly publicising the banned assembly, a police spokesperson confirmed. A food delivery person was also arrested on Friday after allegedly promoting the gathering.

Chow Hang-tung. File Photo: Ocean Tham/HKFP.

Chow Hang-tung, vice-chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, and the 20-year-old delivery person were arrested over social media posts under section 17A(1D) of the Public Order Ordinance, police said, without disclosing specifics of the social media content.

“They were found to have used their social media accounts to advertise or publicise a public meeting that had been prohibited by the police,” said Senior Superintendent Terry Law.

The arrests were made after police gathered evidence during their investigation, he said: “Police noticed that some people have disregarded the [police’s] decision that a public assembly had been banned and continued to promote and call upon people to join the banned public assembly.”

“It is also against the law if anyone attended the assembly as a result of their incitement,” he said. “Police ask Hongkongers not to attend public assemblies that have been banned or those that have not been authorised.”

The man, surnamed Cheung, was arrested in Shatin while Chow was arrested in Central.

Chow was in touch with a lawyer, a Hong Kong Alliance spokesperson said, citing a family member. She said via her lawyer that she will be fasting on Friday if she would not be able to light a candle to commemorate the Massacre.

Large police deployment

The annual candlelight vigil, traditionally organised by the Hong Kong Alliance, was allowed to take place at Victoria Park for three decades until last year, when authorities banned it citing public health concerns during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ban followed months of pro-democracy protests that rocked the city.

The Tiananmen massacre occurred on June 4, 1989 ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people died when the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to crack down on protesters in Beijing.

Photo: HK Police screenshot via Facebook.

Authorities have warned of penalties of up to five years in prison for participating in an unlawful assembly and a one year sentence for inciting others to do so, while local media reported that police would deploy over 7,000 officers on Friday in anticipation of any illegal congregation at the park in Causeway Bay.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.