Hong Kong police arrested four organizers of an annual Tiananmen Square vigil on Wednesday for refusing to cooperate with an investigation related to their alleged violations of the city’s national security law, the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported.
The Hong Kong Police Force confirmed on September 8 it had arrested three men and one woman for “not providing information” as requested according to the investigation. The police force did not identify the four individuals but said they were between the ages of 36 and 57 years old.
4 #ARRESTED on suspicion of breaking #NationalSecurityLaw—failing to submit info requested under the law to aid #HKPF’s probe. #HKSARG’s Security Bureau supports #LawEnforcement action taken after warnings being ‘ignored’—blatant disregard for #RuleOfLaw! More arrests may follow. https://t.co/KlAWjf6kMs pic.twitter.com/qy8t0MrzrF
— Hong Kong Police Force (@hkpoliceforce) September 8, 2021
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China — the group that organizes Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen Square vigil — confirmed four of its member were arrested by police in the early hours of September 8.
The group named the arrested members as Simon Leung, Sean Tang, Chan To-wai, and Chow Hang-tung.
The Hong Kong Police Force sent a letter to the alliance on August 25 “requesting information about its membership, finances and activities by September 7,” according to a copy of the letter seen by Reuters.
“The letter accused the alliance of being ‘an agent of foreign forces,'” the news agency revealed.
“Failure to provide the information by the deadline could result in a HK$100,000 fine and six months in jail,” the letter threatened.
Members of the alliance issued their own letter to the Hong Kong Police Force on September 7 claiming the request was “illegal, arbitrary and that no evidence of their wrongdoing had been presented,” according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Beijing’s national security office in Hong Kong issued a “rare” statement on September 8 addressing the arrest of the four alliance members, according to AFP.
“Anyone who has violated the national security law of Hong Kong and other laws of Hong Kong must be punished by the law,” the statement read.
Beijing’s national security office in Hong Kong “has only issued two previous such statements — following the arrests of media tycoon Jimmy Lai and law professor Benny Tai — even though more than 120 people have been arrested under the security law,” AFP noted on Wednesday.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China previously organized an annual candlelight vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, China. Chinese-allied forces within Hong Kong’s government launched a security crackdown on the city last year in response to a powerful pro-democracy movement that spurred demonstrations across the metropolis from about June 2019 to June 2020. The crackdown included a ban on the Tiananmen vigil in Victoria Park.
A pro-Beijing faction of Hong Kong’s government quashed the city’s pro-democracy protests by imposing a “national security law” that banned such “secessionist” behavior. The “national security law” went into effect in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020. The legislation created four new crimes: secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.
“For the four offences, ‘serious’ cases will generally attract penalties of at least 10 years and up to life imprisonment. Regular cases will attract penalties of a minimum of three years behind bars and a maximum of 10 years [sic],” HKFP reported at the time.