As at June 23, a total of 196 people had been arrested for alleged national security-related offences since the law came into force on June 30, 2020. So far, 124 individuals have been charged and five companies prosecuted.

The figures cover both people arrested under the NSL and those held under a separate law covering sedition. The Security Bureau did not provide separate figures for sedition offences, despite having done so previously.

National security police call in activist group volunteers ahead of Handover anniversary

The League of Social Democrats, one of Hong Kong’s last remaining active pro-democracy groups, announced that they would not hold any protest on the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover after some of its volunteers were summoned for meetings by the national security police.

Chan Po-ying, the leader of the League of Social Democrats, hosted a street booth on June 25. Photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

The group’s former chairperson Avery Ng said that some LSD members, including himself, were under “constant surveillance” ahead of the anniversary.

Hospital staff union disbands

The Hospital Authority Employees Alliance (HAEA), founded in the wake of the 2019 unrest, announced it would disband on June 30, the second anniversary of the national security law. The union representing public hospital employees cited “pressure from all sides” and “white terror.”

Winnie Yu. File photo: Hospital Authority Employees Alliance, via Facebook.

Its former chairwoman Winnie Yu is among 47 pro-democracy figures who may face up to life in prison over an alleged conspiracy to commit subversion under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

The HAEA became the latest civil society group to dissolve following the security legislation. Since 2021, at least 58 organisations -including unions, churches, media groups, and political parties – have folded.

Returning Valiant

Seven people who had ties to the pro-independence group “Returning Valiant” will face trial or sentencing in the High Court over an alleged conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, after they were committed by Principal Magistrate Peter Law last Tuesday.

Six of the defendants were secondary school students when they were charged under the national security law, with the youngest aged 15. They were all remanded in custody pending trial.

Student Union vote

Polytechnic University’s top student body voted down a proposal to dissolve in June, but decided to freeze millions of dollars worth of the group’s assets and indefinitely halt operations and recruitment.

Photo: Kevin Cheng/United Social Press.

The vote came after the “Red Brick Society,” formerly known as “PolyU Student Union” before the school cut ties with it in April, said a lawyer had made the recommendation to dissolve the organisation citing the security law.

Counter-terrorism hotline

Police launched a counter-terrorism hotline for people to report potential terrorist or related crimes. Rewards will be given to those whose tips lead to prosecutions.

The new hotline came after a national security hotline was launched following the implementation of the legislation two years ago.

Tiananmen commemorations

After two banned commemorations in the last two years, Hong Kong marked the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown on June 4 largely without public protests. Police made six arrests.

Hong Kong Alliance

The national security cases against the defunct organiser of the city’s annual Tiananmen vigils, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, continue.

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

The transfer of the incitement to subversion case against the defunct group, along with three of its former leaders, Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho, and Chow Hang-tung, was delayed for another three months.

The court also rejected Chow’s application for further details from the prosecution in another case, in which she is accused of failing to comply with a national security data probe. The trial will begin next month.

Chow also filed an application to appeal her conviction and sentence over last year’s banned June 4th assembly. She was jailed for 15 months in January for inciting others to take part in last year’s commemoration, which was banned by the police citing Covid-19 health concerns.

47 Democrats

All but one of the 47 democrats accused of conspiracy to commit subversion saw their case transferred to Hong Kong’s High Court in early June. Many of the defendants have been remanded in prison since February last year.

Defendant Wong Ji-yuet. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

The maximum penalty the group could face is life imprisonment.

‘Captain America 2.0’ appeal

Ma Chun-man, nicknamed “Captain America 2.0” for carrying a superhero shield during the 2019 protests, filed an application to appeal against his sentence under the national security law, claiming that the punishment was too severe.

Ma, the second person to be sentenced under the sweeping legislation, was sentenced to five years and nine months in prison last November after being convicted of inciting secession by District Court Judge Stanley Chan.

Press freedom

Fewer Hongkongers trust public broadcaster RTHK, according to a study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.

RTHK’s former boss Patrick Li was appointed as the permanent secretary for security in Chief Executive John Lee’s administration. The public broadcaster underwent a series of overhauls, including cancellations of various shows, under Li’s tenure.

An October trial date was set for the sedition case against the defunct Stand News. Two former chief editors of the news outlet said they intend to plead not guilty, while the parent company of Stand News remains unrepresented in court.

Former acting chief editor of Stand News Patrick Lam was seen taken away by national security police on December 28, 2021. Photo: Supplied.

The liquidators of Next Digital, the company which published Hong Kong’s defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, said they were investigating media reports that the Taiwanese edition of the tabloid had been sold without their knowledge.

Sedition

Seven people were arrested under the colonial-era sedition law ahead of the 25th anniversary of the city’s Handover to China’s rule. Four people who were brought to court were denied bail.

In other sedition cases, the trial of veteran activist Koo Sze-yiu began in June. Koo stands accused over a protest that was planned against the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Singer-activist Tommy Yuen, accused of committing an act or acts with seditious intention in connection to social media posts, appeared in court unrepresented after saying he was told to withdraw his legal aid application.

District Court. File photo: Peter Lee/HKFP.

In June, Hong Kong also saw a legal dispute about whether the District Court has the jurisdiction to handle sedition cases. Barrister Steven Kwan argued in court that sedition charges should be tried in Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance given the gravity of the offence.

Government proposals

With a new administration, the Democratic Party urged the chief executive to rebuild relationships with the public, and in particular young people, by revoking the charges and sentences against those involved in the 2019 protests and unrest.

A new bill amendment that would block Hongkongers convicted of “endangering national security” from being registered as social workers was also scheduled to take effect in July. Tik Chi-yuen, the city’s only self-proclaimed non-pro-establishment lawmaker, said the proposal prompted concern in the sector.

The city’s Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office spent HK$31 million funding 79 studies into the 2019 protests but decided not to disclose the findings for fear of legal risks.

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang also revealed in the legislature that a total of 129 Hong Kong civil servants and 535 other government workers had been sacked or resigned after failing to take a new oath of allegiance.

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Hong Kong Free Press

Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.