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Tiananmen vigil organizers arrested in Hong Kong

The police arrested four organizers of an annual Tiananmen Square memorial after they refused to cooperate with a national security investigation.
/ Source: Reuters

HONG KONG — Hong Kong police on Wednesday arrested four members of a pro-democracy group that organizes the annual June 4 rally to commemorate those who died in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, in the latest blow to the opposition movement in the Chinese territory.

Activist and barrister Chow Hang Tung of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China was arrested along with three others, the group said.

“I want to tell Hong Kongers that we need to continue to resist, don’t surrender to the unreasonable power quickly and easily," Chow told reporters on Tuesday when she went to police headquarters to tell officers she would not provide information they had requested.

Chow Hang Tung, vice chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, in Hong Kong on Sept. 5, 2021.Anthony Kwan / Getty Images

Police sent a letter to the alliance in August requesting information about its membership, finances and activities by Sept. 7, according to a copy the group sent to reporters.

The letter accused the alliance of being "an agent of foreign forces." Failure to provide the information by the deadline could result in a fine of 100,000 Hong Kong dollars (about $13,000) and six months in jail, the letter said.

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The National Security Department said it had arrested three men and one woman, ages 36 to 57, for failing to comply with national security law requirements. It did not identify them.

The department said investigations were ongoing and it did not rule out further arrests.

The national security law, which Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last year after it was roiled by anti-government protests, punishes what authorities broadly refer to as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.

Chow's arrest came hours before she was due to represent detained opposition politician Gwyneth Ho, who is charged with conspiracy to commit subversion under a Beijing-imposed national security law, at a bail hearing.

Ho withdrew her bail application at the High Court after Judge Esther Toh declined her request to lift reporting restrictions for the hearing.

Alliance leaders Albert Ho and Lee Cheuk-yan are already in jail over their roles in the 2019 protests.

The group said in July that it had laid off staff members to ensure their safety and that half of its committee members had resigned.