A Hong Kong barrister was sentenced to 15 months in jail on Tuesday for using social media to incite people to attend a banned vigil remembering the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
Authorities last year, for the second time in a row, banned the city’s annual June 4th memorial for the mainland Chinese student protesters who were killed in the violence. Police cited COVID-19 concerns, while critics argued it was part of a wider campaign to suppress memories of the event.
Chow Hang-tung, 36, who represented herself in court, was accused of incitement in connection with two articles published on Facebook and in a local newspaper, ahead of the 2021 commemoration.
In the newspaper article, the title of which said Hong Kong people “persevere in telling the truth,” she concluded by writing, “At 8 p.m., I hope to see your candlelights,” without specifying where.
In her defense, Chow had argued that the article called for candles to be lit anywhere — not specifically at the vigil. She added that her detention restricted her freedom of speech.
But magistrate Amy Chan said in her judgment that Chow’s acts were “calculated and planned, and that she was determined to attract as much public attention as possible, to exert influence and to leave a deep impression on other people.”
Chow is already serving a 12-month sentence after she was found guilty last year with seven other activists, including media tycoon Jimmy Lai, for similar charges of attending and inciting others to join the unauthorized vigil in 2020.