Saturday, June 15, 2024

We already knew that "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times" is considered seditious -- but has "Five demands, not one less" been deemed to be so too now?!

Seen on a Lennon Wall in 2019

"A Hong Kong man was denied bail under the city’s new domestic security law after he allegedly wore a t-shirt with a banned protest slogan and a yellow mask".  Thus began a report in the Hong Kong Free Press about an individual whose arrest on Wednesday (June 12th) only came to be known by many yesterday (June 14th).
"Defendant Chu Kai-pong, 27, was brought to the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on Friday to face one count of “doing with a seditious intention an act or acts that had a seditious intention.” He was also charged with failing to show his proof of identity to the police and loitering with intent, the report continued.
"According to the charge sheet, Chu was intercepted by the police on Wednesday near Shek Mun MTR station. He was said to have worn a top and a mask printed with statements that were allegedly intended to incite hatred, contempt or disaffection against the “fundamental system of the state established by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China.”"
"Local media reported on Friday that Chu’s t-shirt contained the 2019 protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times,” which was ruled as being capable of carrying secessionist connotations in the city’s first national security law trial in 2021." Arrests related to that particular slogan were first made in July 2020 -- very soon after the national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong being in effect.
"Chu was also wearing a yellow mask printed with the words “FDNOL.” The phrase is considered an acronym of “Five Demands, Not One Less,” also a slogan from the 2019 extradition bill protests which laid out the movement’s demands."
Note: If "Five Demands, Not One Less" is considered illegal, it's newly so -- and this would be the first time that someone was arrested with regards to it.  And, frankly, this is a "development" I find extremely disturbing as it represents a further level of restriction of free speech along with what appears to be a (deliberate) misrepresentation of a pretty moderate set of demands as ones that are inflammatory, even revolutionary.
Something else not mentioned in the Hong Kong Free Press piece (but was reported earlier in the year): Chu Kai-pong was previously arrested at Hong Kong International Airport  last November. At the time, he was wearing a T-shirt with the "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” slogan printed on it and found to be in possession of flags that bore similar slogans.
For this, he was sentenced to three months jail in January.  Which would mean that he was out of jail by April at the latest.  So it seems he's a repeated offender in this regard and the police appear to have targeted him. 
The former is something that could be said about the majority of Article 23 arrestees (who include "Grandma" Alexandra Wong this past June 4th) thus far while the latter is something that seems to be the case with all of them.  Which gives credence to my suspicion that in contemporary Hong Kong, it's a matter of "If they want to get you, they'll get you with some law or other".  So one can only hope that one's not among the "extremely small minority" that the national security laws are meant to target!

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Still really f**king loving Hong Kong on the 5th anniversary of the 1 million strong anti-extradition bill march (Photo-essay)

This past June 4th, I was out and about in various parts of Hong Kong in the afternoon.  In Victoria Park, where the June 4th candlelight vigil regularly and officially took place through to 2019, I encountered a crazy amount of cops.  
Earlier today, the 5th anniversary of the 1 million anti-extradition bill protest march, I was in Victoria Park and elsewhere in Hong Kong again.  To my surprise, I didn't see many cops out and about at all.  Consequently, I felt emboldened to effectively walk once more from Causeway Bay to Admiralty this afternoon -- during which I came across some interesting sights enroute.
I know that, from the outside, it might seem that Hong Kongers have given up their fight for, and dreams of, democracy and justice.  But, honestly, I feel like I regularly see signs to this day that this is not the case.  Today, I present to you some of them -- and if they seem on the overly humble and trivial side, remember that there are now not one but two security laws in force in Hong Kong, and the penalties for being adjudged to break them are very dire indeed.   

Spotted earlier this week -- and, in all likelihood,
scribbled in recent weeks or months (as it's so fresh looking!)
The same message, less clearly written, spotted earlier today
A message (Keep Hong Kong Free) that I'm going to assume 
is from 2019, but is still visible in 2024
Also from 2019 -- barely discernible in 2024 but I feel
like I can make out an "Add Oil HK" there
Far more clearly, rendered in Chinese characters:
"Hong Kong people, add oil"
Also from 2019 but much more clearly visible, 
if you know where to find it
Good words to live by
It may not always be clear but yeah, 

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

The 35th anniversary of the 35th of May

In memory of the victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre
Hong Kong still remembers.  We are no longer allowed to hold candlelight vigils in Victoria Park to commemorate June 4th.  But we still most definitely remember, and many of us still have lit candles and mourned this evening -- these days, for what has been lost in Hong Kong since China imposed a national security law on Hong Kong (on June 30th, 2020) as well as was lost in Beijing all those years ago. :(

Saturday, June 1, 2024

The verdict has been delivered by the national security judges in the trial of the Hong Kong 47 but it ain't over yet by a long chalk!

Mood this week in Hong Kong
It's not yet over but here's stating all the same that it's been one hell of a crap week in Hong Kong.  Never mind the bad weather (which has included typhoon warnings getting issued -- thanks, Typhoon Maliksi!)Though I must say that the gray days and weeping skies have felt reflective of many people's moods.     
The day after the first arrests under Article 23 were made, a seventh individual was apprehended -- also over "seditious posts" by and on a Facebook page known as the ChowHangTung club that appear to be nothing more than "daily posts in memory of the events in Tiananmen Square and the vigils held in Hong Kong until 2019 to remember them"!  ("The initiative", a P.I.M.E. Asia news piece explains, "is linked to Chow’s legal battle. She was arrested for her role in organising commemorations in Victoria Park. For this reason, she has been in prison since September 2021, and is still awaiting trial after almost three years.")
As Freedom House research director Yaqiu Wang observed in a piece in The Diplomat: "The fact that the authorities keep throwing new charges at Chow for the one thing she did – organize commemorations to honor those killed by their government for peacefully demanding freedom and democracy – only speaks to the insecurity that she inspires in her own government and in Beijing."
Something also worth point out -- which Wang does in her piece: "Beijing’s determination to crush Hong Kong’s freedoms and to erase history is illustrated by the multiple, years-long prosecutions against Chow. However, Chow’s courage and resolve in the face of this repression exemplify Hong Kongers’ collective determination to fight back." 
In a development that now passes for a "Thank goodness for small mercies" one, all of those arrestees -- bar for Chow Hang-tung, who was already behind bars at the time of her arrest on this (new) charge -- have been granted bail.  One way in which many of us found this out was by seeing a photo of one of the six, Lee Ying-chi (a dentist by profession), waiting in line to get into court to see and hear on Thursday morning the verdict being given of the Hong Kong 47.  
Sadly, that's what came to pass.  For more than three years and three months after 47 organizers and participants of a pro-democracy primary staged in 2020 were arrested on February 28th, 2021, the three hand-picked national security law judges decided that only two of the individuals concerned were innocent of the conspiracy to commit subversion charges laid on them.   
Still, lest barrister (and ex-cop as well as district councillor) Lawrence Lau and former district councillor (and registered social worker) Lee Yue-shun, who made history by being the first two people tried under the Beijing-imposed national security law to be cleared of their charges think it's all over, "Director of Public Prosecutions Maggie Yang on Thursday afternoon said that she had received instruction from Secretary for Justice Paul Lam that the justice department would seek to appeal the acquittal of Lau and Lee." Of course!  

And with mitigation hearings and appeals by at least some of those found guilty also still to come, this case is set to run through the summer; with sentencing not taking place for some months yet.  During which, the stress and misery for many, if not all, of the people involved will continue.  (Reading the piece of AP's Kanis Leung on the toll of Beijing's national security law on Hong Kong's activists before the verdict was already heartbreaking.) 

More than by the way, Chan Po-ying is the subject of a piece by AFP's Xinqi Su which appears on the Hong Kong Free Press' website today with headlines that emphasize that she's spent decades fighting for democracy with Long Hair -- and has continued to do so after his national security law arrest.  The following is how the piece concludes -- and I think is a good way to conclude this blog post:
Chan said it was important that people keep speaking up.

“What we have been trying to emphasise is that we don’t want society to be voiceless,” she said.

“When there is no other narratives than the one and only official version, I think as a humble citizen and resident, it’s our duty to history that we shall not let others alter our history and memories,” she added.

 (My emphasis.)