Skip to main content




Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong pleads guilty over Jun 4 'illegal assembly'

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong pleads guilty over Jun 4 'illegal assembly'

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong looks on upon arriving at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre after he remained in custody over the national security law charge, in the early morning, in Hong Kong, China March 2, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

HONG KONG: Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong was among the four people who pleaded guilty on Friday (Apr 30) of participating in an illegal assembly on Jun 4 last year to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen incident.

It was the first time the vigil had been banned in the global financial hub, with police citing, as it did for all demonstrations last year, coronavirus restrictions on group gatherings. It is expected to face a similar fate this year.

Still, tens of thousands of people lit candles across the city in what was largely a peaceful event last June, bar a brief skirmish with riot police in one neighbourhood.

Wong, already in prison after he was found guilty of participating and organising an unauthorised assembly during the mass 2019 pro-democracy protests, pleaded guilty in the District Court.

READ: Hong Kong democracy activists appear in court over banned Tiananmen vigil

The other activists who pleaded guilty were Lester Shum, Jannelle Leung and Tiffany Yuen. Another activist, Eddie Chu, asked for an adjournment and his case will be heard on Jun 11, with 19 others facing similar charges.

The Jun 4 anniversary struck an especially sensitive nerve in the former British colony last year, falling just as Beijing prepared to introduce new security legislation which punishes anything China sees as subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

While in prison, Wong was arrested in January on suspicion of breaking the new law, which was introduced in July 2020, by taking part in an unofficial vote to pick opposition candidates for a since-postponed election, which authorities describe as a "vicious plot" to "overthrow" the government.

READ: Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong detained for illegal assembly

READ: Jailed Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong suspected of violating city's new security law

This year, the Jun 4 event is particularly awkward for Beijing, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party. 

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, asked whether commemorating the victims of Tiananmen would violate the new security law, said this week it was important to show respect to the Party.

Commemorations of the Tiananmen incident are banned in mainland China, but Hong Kong traditionally held the largest vigils globally every year, having been promised certain freedoms when it returned to Chinese rule in 1997, including rights of expression and assembly.

China has never provided a full account of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident. The death toll given by officials was about 300, most of them soldiers, but rights groups and witnesses say thousands of people may have died. 

Source: Reuters/ga


Also worth reading