A student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has been fined HK$8,000 for putting stickers on lampposts and road signs on the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown last year.
Miles Kwan appeared in front of magistrate Tsang Hing-tung at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Tuesday. He stood accused of criminal damage.
Kwan, whose trial was set to begin on Tuesday, pleaded guilty, The Witness reported. According to the prosecution’s case, he stuck stickers that read “nothing to fear about telling the truth” on lampposts and road signs on Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Mong Kok on June 4 last year.
According to the Highways Department, it cost HK$28,800 to remove the stickers, and some could not be removed.
After pleading guilty, Kwan attempted to make his own mitigation statement, but was criticised by the magistrate, InMedia reported.
“Defendant, you are not here to perform, please think this through,” Tsang said, according to InMedia.
Kwan then dismissed his lawyer and proceeded to present his statement. The CUHK student said that the reason the police made an effort to prove their case was because the incident took place on June 4.
“However, [I] hope the court does not misunderstand and think that I made and stuck the stickers not because I was remembering the democratic movement that happened in China, or because [I] was trying to incite anyone,” Kwan said, according to the InMedia report.
“It is because I felt incredibly oppressed in Hong Kong in 2022. What Hongkongers felt the most in the Hong Kong after 2020 was probably emptiness or that something was missing,” the defendant said.
“Hong Kong missed public processions and civil leaders. Political prisoners were forced to leave their families and friends. What people said the most was ‘there is something that cannot be said’,” Kwan continued.
“But the fact is that as long as one conquers fear, there is nothing that cannot be said: if the regime wins people’s hearts, there is also no reason to fear their words. In face of the small cost, there is no reason for me to shut up. Speaking proves that there is nothing to fear about telling the truth. Therefore I have no reason to regret,” Kwan said.
The magistrate handed down a fine of HK$8,000 after considering Kwan’s guilty plea and it was his first offence.
Tsang also said that he believed the defendant committed the offence due to the atmosphere of society and his own political views, and that he hoped Kwan could learn from the incident even though he said he did not regret it.
The Tiananmen crackdown occurred on June 4, 1989 ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died when the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on protesters in Beijing.
Commemorations in Hong Kong of the crackdown’s victims were barred by the police for two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021, citing Covid-19 health concerns. The organiser of the city’s annual candlelight vigils disbanded in 2021 following the arrests of its members under the Beijing-imposed national security law.
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