HONG KONG (AP) – The group behind the annual Tiananmen Square vigil in Hong Kong said Sunday it will not cooperate with the police who are conducting a national security investigation into the group’s activities, calling it an abuse of power.
Police briefed the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of China’s Patriotic Democratic Movements, which are under investigation for work for foreign interests, last month, an allegation they have denied.
“This is a really bad precedent for abuse of power by national security (police) arbitrarily designating any civilian organization as a foreign agent,” said Chow Han Tung, vice chairwoman of the alliance, at a press conference convened to help the police To address investigations.
“The Alliance firmly 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 people of Hong Kong.”
The investigation is part of a comprehensive crackdown on Hong Kong’s civil society following mass protests for democracy in 2019. The authorities tightened control of the city with a comprehensive national security law passed by China’s ruling Communist Party that effectively opposes the government criminalized. The law and other changes have forced several civil organizations to disband or arrest their leaders.
The annual candlelight vigil honors the students who died when China’s military forcibly suppressed massive pro-democratic protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4, 1989.
Hong Kong was the only place in China allowed to hold such a memorial, and over the past few years tens of thousands of people have gathered in Victoria Park to honor the dead. Smaller crowds gathered this year and 2020, despite police banning the vigil, citing coronavirus restrictions on public gatherings.
The police asked the Alliance to provide all information about groups they had worked with abroad or in Taiwan, as well as contact information. You did not mention the specific incidents that prompted the investigation.
Chow said the alliance was unable to reach consensus on the dissolution. It is planned to hold a general meeting on September 25th to discuss the matter again.
In August, the prominent Hong Kong Civil Rights Front, made up of a number of affiliate organizations, declared no longer operating and decided to disband. The group organized major protests in 2019.
More than 100 pro-democracy activists have been arrested under Hong Kong’s national security law, which prohibits subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion in the city’s affairs. Many other activists have gone into exile abroad.
Critics say the law restricts the freedoms Hong Kong can enjoy for 50 years after it surrendered territory from colonial Britain to China in 1997.
Wu reported from Taipei, Taiwan.
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