Hong Kong Activist Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison Over Tiananmen Square Vigil

A court in Hong Kong sentenced pro-democracy activist Chow Hang-tung to 15 months in prison on Jan. 4 for her role in organizing a vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The 15-month prison sentence is Chow’s second conviction over the banned vigils.

Chow was already serving a 12-month sentence, but the latest conviction meant that she will now serve 22 months in prison.

The court ruled on Jan. 4 that Chow’s published articles, which called on residents to light candles to mark the anniversary of the deadly event, amounted to inciting others to defy the police ban on the vigils.

Authorities banned the vigils for the last two years, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

“The law never allows anyone to exercise their freedom by unlawful means,” Magistrate Amy Chan said, according to AFP News.

“She was determined to attract and publish attention for the purpose of calling in the public to gather,” Chan added.

Chow accused the court of criminalizing speech, saying that “the message this verdict sends is that lighting a candle is guilty, that words are guilty.”

“The real crime is to cover for murderers with laws and to delete victims in the name of state,” Chow said.

Authorities also charged Chow for national security crimes, which carry up to life in prison.

Chow was the vice chairperson of the now-disbanded Hong Kong Alliance, which organized annual vigils to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre.

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