[WSMDiscuss] Hong Kong : Organizers of Hong Kong’s Tiananmen vigil appear in court / Beijing accuses Occupy protest leader Benny Tai of breaking national security law through primary poll / NEW BOOK : 'Rebel City : Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire'

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Tue Jul 14 22:54:45 CEST 2020

TTuesday, July 14, 2020

Hong Kong in movement…, China in movement…, Resistance in movement…, Freedoms in movement…, History in movement…

·      Organizers of Hong Kong’s Tiananmen vigil appear in court

·      Hong Kong elections : Beijing accuses Occupy protest leader Benny Tai of breaking national security law through primary poll

·      Rebel City : Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire 

[An update on Hong Kong… where the so-called ‘pro-democracy’ movement has taken what seems to me – as a complete outsider – a very interesting, fine line, using law as their thread and passing the  thread through the very slim space that they have been able to see in the head of the needle… and organising an unofficial, popular – and city-wide - vote both as a means of determining who their candidates will be in the upcoming local elections and as a way to keep open space for popular opinion.  But which the government of the city-state are of course furious about.

[Separately, but in parallel to this, the trials of those arrested for violating laws have started, with the obvious parallel purpose of casting a shadow and chill over the city.

[What is also interesting though, is to try and read how the local source here – the South China Morning Post – is handling this transition, in this article and also others… attempting to manage a balance between reporting on (and thereby publicising) popular initiatives while also reporting in detail on the government’s position and the enforcement of law; and even if this is understandable under the circumstances, given its position in Hong Kong society.

[The announcement also of a new book on the Hong Kong movements, right at the end : ‘Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire’ :
Organizers of Hong Kong’s Tiananmen vigil appear in court

Zen Soo, Associated Press

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/international-business/article-organizers-of-hong-kongs-tiananmen-vigil-appear-in-court/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/international-business/article-organizers-of-hong-kongs-tiananmen-vigil-appear-in-court/>

The organizers of a vigil commemorating China’s bloody 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square appeared in a Hong Kong court on Monday on charges of inciting others to participate in an unlawful assembly.

A total of 13 people were charged over the June 4 vigil, including Lee Cheuk-Yan, who chairs the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic and Democratic Movements of China. The alliance organizes the vigil, which is an annual event.

Others charged include Jimmy Lai, founder of the Apple Daily newspaper and a pro-democracy advocate, as well as activists and alliance members Richard Tsoi and Albert Ho.

Police had ruled that this year’s vigil could not take place owing to restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, but organizers turned up to sit in the usual vigil venue, Victoria Park. Thousands eventually followed suit.

Days later, they were charged for inciting others to participate in the banned protest.

“Today we are supposedly on trial, but we believe it is the Hong Kong government, the police that should be put on trial and will be put on trial because of the suppression of our right to mourn on June 4,” Mr. Lee said.

“This is a complete denial of our rights under the constitutional Basic Law,” he said.

The group held up posters and banners condemning the government for suppressing the vigil and opposing political prosecution.

They also took a moment of silence to mark the death anniversary of Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident who died of liver cancer in 2017 while serving an 11-year jail sentence for “subversion of state power.”

Hong Kong elections : Beijing accuses Occupy protest leader Benny Tai of breaking national security law through primary poll

Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office also says organiser Benny Tai ‘illegally manipulated’ the city’s election system, acted as political agent for foreign forces
Some 610,000 Hongkongers voted last weekend to determine who gets the opposition ticket for the Legislative Council elections in September
Kimmy Chung  <https://www.scmp.com/author/kimmy-chung>and Chris Lau <https://www.scmp.com/author/chris-lau-0>
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3093175/hong-kong-elections-beijing-issues-strongest-condemnation <https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3093175/hong-kong-elections-beijing-issues-strongest-condemnation>

Hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers took part in weekend voting for the opposition primary, the organisers of which have been lambasted by Beijing. Photo: Felix Wong

Beijing has issued its strongest condemnation yet of a controversial election primary held by Hong Kong’s opposition parties, singling out organiser and long-time activist Benny Tai Yiu-ting, whom it accused of “illegally manipulating” the city’s polling system, challenging the new national security  <https://www.scmp.com/topics/hong-kong-national-security-law-nsl>and acting as a political agent for foreign forces.

In a scathing statement on Tuesday, the cabinet-level Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) lashed out at those behind last weekend’s unofficial polls, when 610,000 Hongkongers voted to determine who should get the opposition ticket for the Legislative Council elections <https://www.scmp.com/topics/legislative-council-elections-2020> in September.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Beijing’s liaison office in the city on Monday had already accused the opposition of trying to take control of the legislature to vote down the budget and paralyse the government, in what they described as a coordinated ploy to subvert state power.
“[We] strongly condemn the so-called ‘primary election’ organised by the opposition groups. The act is an unlawful manipulation of Hong Kong elections and a blatant challenge against the Basic Law and the national security law,” the HKMAO statement read, referring to the sweeping new legislation Beijing tailor-made for the city to outlaw acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.

Turning its ire on Tai, a legal academic and co-leader of the Occupy movement in 2014, the office suggested the primary he helped organise flowed from the anti-government protests <https://www.scmp.com/topics/hong-kong-protests> sparked by the now-withdrawn extradition bill <https://www.scmp.com/topics/hong-kong-extradition-bill> last June, describing him as “one of the culprits” behind the social unrest.

“Benny Tai was a key organiser of the ‘unlawful’ Occupy Central movement <https://www.scmp.com/topics/occupy-central> and an advocate of ‘Hong Kong independence’ and the scorched-earth mentality,” the statement read, accusing him of serving as “a political agent of foreign forces”.

Primary vote co-organiser Benny Tai has been singled out for condemnation by Beijing. Photo: Nora Tam

Citing the opposition bloc’s goal of winning a majority in the legislature, Beijing’s top office overseeing Hong Kong affairs criticised its approach of trying to force chief executive Lam to accept the “five demands” <https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/3025750/five-key-demands-not-one-less-hong-kong-protesters-make> repeatedly raised during the anti-government protests over the past year. It accused the bloc of having the ultimate aim of overthrowing the government.

“Under the guise of ‘safeguarding a high degree of autonomy in Hong Kong’, they are actually trying to use the so-called ‘public opinion’ to harm the country and disrupt Hong Kong, turning Hong Kong into a base for ‘colour revolution’ <https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3015619/hong-kong-extradition-law-protests-colour-revolution>, infiltration and subversion activities against the country,” the statement read, using the term coined for the Eastern European uprisings of the early 2000s.
The office slammed the primary process for “misleading” voters, and warned it could be in breach of the national security law, which took effect on June 30, and the privacy ordinance regulating the collection of personal data.

Tai rejected the allegations as “nonsense, groundless, and absurd”.

“I hope that the central government can see that 610,000 Hong Kong people have only used a peaceful and rational way to express their views through voting,” he said. “If even they could be condemned as breaching the law, it will make governance even more difficult in the future and will provoke even more radical protests.”

Tai said the primary was organised using local resources and losing candidates were free to run in September’s Legco elections without any form of coercion.

The opposition camp has previously organised smaller-scale primaries for chief executive polls and by-elections for the legislature, but it is the first time one has been held for all five constituencies ahead of the Legco elections.

Rejecting the accusations of subversion, Tai said legislators had the constitutional power under the Basic Law to veto the budget and hold the government accountable.

“It is absurd to allege this as subverting the state. Also, the allegation ignores the clear wording of the Basic Law,” he said.

Tai, who served time in prison for his role in the Occupy protests, had said previously that securing a simple majority in the 70-seat legislature could be used by the opposition as a “constitutional weapon”, allowing them to veto the annual budget and force the government to bow to their demands.

Should the chief executive respond by dissolving Legco in accordance with the Basic Law, Tai wrote in his newspaper column, the public would have another chance to vote in fresh elections.

Winning another majority in this way would force the chief executive to resign as leader to resolve the deadlock, Tai predicted, adding this system of checks and balances was provided for in the Basic Law.

University of Hong Kong principal law lecturer Eric Cheung Tat-ming said he could not see how lawmakers acting with a mandate and exercising their rights under the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, could fall foul of the subversion offence under the national security law.

Barrister Ronny Tong Ka-wah, a government adviser sitting on the Executive Council, said the Basic Law specifically provided for the chief executive to dissolve Legco if it refused to pass important legislation, including the budget, suggesting voting down bills in this way was not illegal.

He added he could not see how privacy laws could be broken, although he warned of possible violations under the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance.

Au Nok-hin, a co-organiser of the primary, said he was disappointed and puzzled at the accusations levelled by the two Beijing offices. "It is completely groundless. It is just a locally-organised coordination among our camp,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, a spokesman for the Electoral Affairs Commission made clear the primary would not form any part of the Legislative Council elections.

But he warned that anyone who bribed, used force and duress, or resorted to deception to affect a person’s candidacy would be committing an offence, punishable by up to seven years in jail and a fine of HK$500,000 (US$64,500).

Anyone doing so might also be committing an offence under the national security law, the spokesman added.

A spokesman for the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said they had received six complaints since July 7, all relating to the primary and referring to excessive collection or the misuse of personal data.

The commissioner’s office was following up on the complaints but could not reveal details, he said.

Rebel City: Hong Kong’s Year of Water and Fire is a new book of essays that chronicles the political confrontation that has gripped the city since June 2019. Edited by the South China Morning Post's Zuraidah Ibrahim and Jeffie Lam, the book draws on work from the Post's newsrooms across Hong Kong, Beijing, Washington and Singapore, with unmatched insights into all sides of the conflict.

Buy directly from SCMP <https://rebelcity.scmp.com/products/rebel-city-hong-kongs-year-of-water-and-fire?&utm_source=scmp&utm_medium=content&utm_campaign=scmp_article> today and get a 15% discount (regular price HKD$198). It is available at major bookshops worldwide or online through Amazon <https://www.amazon.com/Rebel-City-Hong-Kongs-Water-dp-9811218609/dp/9811218609/ref=mt_paperback?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1589855151>, Kobo <https://www.kobo.com/sg/en/ebook/rebel-city>, Google Books <https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Lam_Jeffie_Rebel_City_Hong_Kong_s_Year_Of_Water_An?id=nR_kDwAAQBAJ>, and eBooks.com <https://www.ebooks.com/en-hk/book/210024753/rebel-city/zuraidah-ibrahim>.


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
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