The former vice-chair of the now-disbanded Tiananmen Massacre vigil group has pleaded not guilty to inciting others to knowingly take part in this year’s banned commemoration.

Chow Hang-tung, who was head of the recently defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, appeared in front of Magistrate Amy Chan at West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Tuesday.

West Kowloon Magistrates Courts
West Kowloon Magistrates Courts. File photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Chow, representing herself, said that she had not received the prosecution’s opening statement and the list of admitted facts.

The barrister also said that she had planned to make arguments on several issues, including whether the ban on the vigil in June was constitutional, as well as the intention of the social media posts and article she wrote.

Chow said that she would also argue against the legitimacy of her arrest and prosecution. However, the magistrate cited a Court of Final Appeal case and said that the court was not a place to debate political issues.

Chan then ordered the session to break for an hour to allow time for Chow to read the documents.

Admitted facts

After court resumed, Chow was allowed to move from the dock to the defence’s table. The barrister then said that she could only agree to part of the list of admitted facts.

While the prosecution included details such as the Alliance’s notification to the police about holding an assembly on June 4, Chow said that the notice was not relevant to her case, and – even if it was relevant – she could not agree to how the prosecution recorded the notice in the list of admitted facts.

June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre Victoria Park 2021 candle
Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The court session was then paused again for around 20 minutes for Chow and the prosecution to discuss the admitted facts.

As the trial resumed for the second time, the prosecution said that they would have to prepare a written statement from a superintendent after Chow said she still disagreed with parts of the admitted facts.

The barrister, who has been remanded in custody over a national security law case, said that she would need around two weeks’ time to prepare her arguments.

A representative of the prosecution, barrister Fanny Wong, said that she would need to discuss with the Department of Justice about whether she could handle the arguments over the constitutionality of the case.

‘Vindicate June 4th’

As Chan left the courtroom, people in the public gallery shouted “vindicate June 4th,” which Chow repeated loudly. Some people also shouted “beat the Communist Party,” as they left the room.

Chow Hang-tung
Chow Hang-tung. File photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

“Thank you for coming to listen,” said Chow, as some court-watchers shouted “hang in there” to the barrister.

Vigils banned and Alliance disbands

Police banned this year’s Tiananmen Massacre vigil for the second consecutive year citing Covid-19 health concerns. Victoria Park was also sealed off on June 4 ahead of the scheduled start time.

A total of 16 democrats, including activist Joshua Wong, former vice-chair of the Alliance Albert Ho, have been sentenced after pleading guilty over last year’s banned vigil. Eight other pro-democracy figures, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai, will face trial in November.

The Alliance, founded in the year of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, also decided to disband after 32 years following a vote at a special meeting last month. It comes after months of pressure from the authorities and the arrest of the group’s leadership.

Chow became the leader of the Alliance in the lead up to its disbandment after chairperson Lee Cheuk-yan and former vice-chair Albert Ho were jailed over protest-related charges.

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.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.