Hong Kong | Group behind Tiananmen vigil denies foreign ties

Chow Han Tung (left), vice chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, and other group members attend a news conference

The group behind the annual Tiananmen Square memorial vigil in Hong Kong said yesterday it will not cooperate with police conducting a national security investigation into the group’s activities, calling it an abuse of power.
Police notified the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China last month that it was under investigation for working for foreign interests, an accusation the group denied.
“This is a really bad precedent of the national security (police) abusing the power by arbitrarily labelling any civil organization as a foreign agent,” Chow Han Tung, vice chairwoman of the alliance, said at a news conference called to address the police investigation.
“The alliance strongly denies that we are any foreign agents,” Chow said. “We are an organization that was founded during the 1989 democratic movement, it was founded by the Hong Kong people.”
The investigation is part of a broad crackdown on Hong Kong civil society following mass pro-democracy protests in 2019. Authorities have tightened control over the city with a sweeping national security law imposed by China’s ruling Communist Party that effectively criminalized opposition to the government. The law and other changes have forced several civil organizations to disband or seen their leaders arrested.
The annual candlelight vigil honors the students who died when China’s military violently suppressed massive pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
Authorities responded in the afternoon to the group’s announcement with a warning and reiterated they needed information about “certain foreign agents” although they did not name anyone specifically.
“Endangering national security is a very serious crime. The damage is serious,” said the city’s Security Bureau in a statement. They added that not handing over information could lead to fines or imprisonment.
Police had asked the alliance to hand over any information about groups they had worked with overseas or in Taiwan, as well as contact information. They did not mention what specific incidents prompted the investigation.
Chow said the alliance has not been able to reach a consensus on whether to disband. It plans to hold a general meeting on Sept. 25 to discuss the matter again. MDT/AP

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