Hong Kong SAR: Lawyer Chow Hang-Tung sentenced to prison for organizing Tiananmen vigil | Update

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada deplores the conviction and prison sentence handed down to Hong Kong lawyer Chow Hang-Tung on 13 December 2021 for participating in a peaceful candlelight vigil for victims of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. The vigil was held on 4 June 2020, the anniversary of the massacre.

Ms. Chow is one of eight Hong Kong pro-democracy activists who received prison sentences for participating in the vigil, which had been banned by police on the grounds of COVID-19 restrictions despite the fact that Hong Kong had few infections at that time. Ms. Chow was convicted on the charge of “inciting unauthorized assembly” and sentenced to 12 months in prison.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the Hong Kong’s Public Order Ordinance law under which the vigil was banned, saying that it may “facilitate excessive restriction” to rights protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Other pro-democracy activists sentenced to jail terms in relation to the vigil include Mr. Jimmy Lai, Ms. Gwyneth Ho and Ms. Lee Cheuk-yan.

At her sentencing hearing, Ms. Chow stated:

“If those in power had wished to kill the movement with prosecution and imprisonment, they shall be sorely disappointed. Indeed what they have done is breathe new life into the movement, rallying a new generation to this long struggle for truth, justice and democracy.”

Ms. Chow, Mr. Lai, Ms. Ho, and Ms. Lee are also facing prosecutions and potential life sentences under the Hong Kong’s National Security Law.

For background, see the joint letter of 72 international non-governmental organizations and individuals urging Hong Kong authorities to drop the charges against Ms. Chow.