Police in Hong Kong stepped up their presence on the streets ahead of China’s Oct. 1 National Day, as a court denied bail to an organizer of a banned vigil for the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.
Police are set to deploy more than 8,000 officers across the city on Friday to protect National Day events, especially around the Convention and Exhibition Centre, where top officials will gather for a flag-raising ceremony and reception, government broadcaster RTHK reported.
Riot police and counter-terrorism units will be patrolling “sensitive locations,” the station quoted police sources as saying.
West Kowloon magistrate’s court on Thursday denied a fourth bail application for Chow Hang-tung, one of the jailed leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Patriotic Movements of China, who faces subversion charges under a draconian national security law imposed on the city by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The Alliance, Chow and fellow leaders Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho are charged with “incitement to subvert state power” under the law, while national security police have frozen the group’s assets.
At a meeting on Sept. 25, Alliance members voted overwhelmingly to disband after 32 years of supporting victims of the Tiananmen bloodshed, demanding accountability, and advocating for an end to one-party rule.
The national security law, which took effect on July 1, 2020, ushered in an ongoing and citywide crackdown on all forms of public dissent and political opposition, with election rules changed to ensure only pro-CCP candidates can run.
The government is also pushing ahead with further legislation on espionage and other “covert” activities to continue a crackdown on what Beijing insists was an attempt by hostile foreign powers to foment a “color revolution” in Hong Kong during the 2019 protest movement.
Chow, a barrister who is representing herself, requested that the court release her on bail and lift restrictions against media reporting of the hearing.
Principal magistrate Peter Law rejected her requests.
Chow said in a Facebook post that she had been forced to change clothes before her court appearance by correction services officers.
She said she only had two T-shirts in her bag when she was taken to prison, both of which bore slogans linked to the work of the Alliance.
One bore the slogan “The people won’t forget,” in a reference to the June 4, 1989 massacre that ended the student-led democracy movement in China.
“The reason they give was ‘security.’ I just don’t understand,” Chow wrote. “I’ve been wearing the same outfit for my last few court appearances. Have there been any security issues?”
Chow appeared in court wearing a T-shirt with Mickey Mouse on it, according to the post. She lodged a complaint about the compulsory change of clothes against the Correctional Services Department.
Chow’s court appearance came after Hong Kong lawmakers passed new legislation on Wednesday criminalizing online “insults” to the Chinese flag and public “desecration” of China’s national emblems, and requiring schools and kindergartens to fly the flag, and to hold weekly flag-raising ceremonies.
The authorities also disqualified 10 pro-democracy members of the District Council on Wednesday after an official ruled their oaths of allegiance invalid.
They included former Democratic Party lawmaker James To and barrister Lawrence Lau, who has been charged under the national security law.
The disqualifications came after 55 councilors from Kowloon districts took their oaths, 45 of which were found acceptable by the presiding officer.
Meanwhile, financial secretary Paul Chan filed a petition with a Hong Kong court on Thursday to wind up Next Digital after its assets were frozen and its founder Jimmy Lai arrested and charged under the national security law.
Next Digital, which published the now-shuttered pro-democracy Apple Daily, was raided by national security police and its senior journalists and Lai charged with “collusion with foreign powers” in connection with calls for international sanctions against Hong Kong and Chinese officials over the crackdown on dissent.
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.