Standing Committee Members Imprisoned: The Dilemma of Hong Kong Alliance and the Beginning of the June 4th Debate

Standing Committee Members Imprisoned: The Dilemma of Hong Kong Alliance and the Beginning of the June 4th Debate

Translated by BeWater HK on May 9, 2022

2022-5-9 15:00 HKT

Report originally published by Stand News on September 24, 2021

TSUI Hon-kwong, TSANG Kin-shing, Tonyee CHOW Hang-tung and Richard TSOI Yiu-cheong. Dilemma of Hong Kong Alliance and the Beginning of the June 4th Debate

On September 10, 2021 at West Kowloon Magistrates' Courts Division 2, after the court clerk read out the charges, Tonyee Chow Hang-tung, who stood in the defendant's column, responded with a sonorous voice: "Understood, this is a ridiculous charge." Applause from the public gallery filled the court room.

In this unsolved case, chairperson and vice-chairperson Li Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho Chun-yan and Tonyee Chow Hang-Tung of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movements of China, an organization rooted in Hong Kong for 32 years, are charged with the crime of “Inciting Subversion of State Power”. This is the first time in Hong Kong that this offense had been brought to court.

Tonyee CHOW escorted to appear in court on 2021.09.10

On May 21, 1989, the Hong Kong Alliance called on millions of Hongkongers to take to the streets to support pro-democracy students in Beijing, and announced the establishment of the organization on the same day. Wen Wei Po called this day “An Important Sign of the Awakening of the Hong Kong People”. After the massacre happened on June 4, citizens and groups from all political affiliations published condemnation and joint signatures. In the years since, the Hong Kong Alliance has emphasized operating legally under One Country Two Systems, holding candlelight vigils on each anniversary, pursuing accountability for those responsible for the massacre, and guarding the truth of what happened on June 4th.

Today, the Hong Kong Alliance faces a reversal of destiny. In addition to facing trial, their venue has also been seized, funds have been frozen, and social media accounts faced demands to be deleted (except for the website "8964Museum" which is independently operated by the curatorial team).

Photo by PW: June 4th Museum was unsealed on 2021.09.21, the wall originally displayed a time-line of the June 4th Incident

In the past 32 years, whenever the Alliance faced difficulties, they would refer to the contingency plan drawn up in the early years by their founding chairperson, the late Szeto Wah. He expected that after the 1997 change in sovereignty, the Alliance would “bear the brunt of the blow, become the target of repression and persecution". Therefore, as early as 1996, the organization had come up with ten contingency measures regarding situations such as de-registration and members being arrested, and listed in detail in the general declaration of the Victoria Park Candlelight Gathering, one of which is as follows:

"Should the Hong Kong Alliance be characterized as a ‘Subversive Organization', what should we do? […] We firmly reject the characterization of us being a ‘Subversive Organization', and Hong Kong citizens will not accept it ... If a bad law would be enacted after 1997 and unreasonable prosecutions would be proposed, the Hong Kong Alliance would only be the first in line to be persecuted. We would followed by other organizations and individuals, who would also be characterized as “Subversive Organizations" and “Subversives”. This would be a sign of Hong Kong entering a dark age of human rights and freedoms …”

"The storm that Uncle Wah predicted has finally arrived, just that it was twenty years late." said former standing committee member Tsang Kin-Shing.

Photo supplied by WONG Ken-dai: On a particular year of the June 4th Vigil, SZETO Wah and committee members of HKA holding candle lights

At present, all the current standing members of the Hong Kong Alliance are imprisoned. In the future, the company registration may be removed, and the group members will vote on whether dissolve at the general meeting on September 25th. chairperson Li Cheuk-yan and and vice-chairperson Albert Ho Chun-yan, who are recently imprisoned, issued a joint open letter pointing out that the best solution for the Hong Kong Alliance is to dissolve voluntarily; another vice-chairperson, Tonyee Chow Hang-tung, later sent a letter to member groups calling for their opposition to the dissolution. "I trust their experience and judgment, but I still can't convince myself that voluntary dissolution is a 'good option', let alone a 'best solution'.”

The question of whether the Alliance will voluntarily dissolve will soon be answered. However, a more important question follows: if the 32-year history of the Alliance comes to an end, is it only the beginning of the battle for the memory of June 4th?

Say “NO” to snitching; Say “NO” to being silenced

On Sept 5, the June 4 Memorial Museum was filled with journalists for interviews. On that day, the Hong Kong Alliance held a press conference in protest to National Security Department of Hong Kong Police Force’s abuse of power and unreasonably requested the Alliance to submit a mass amount of data in regards to financial statements, meeting documentation and the historic record of activities in the past 8 years.

HKA committee members TANG Ngok-kwan, Tonyee CHOW, LEUNG Kam-wai, TSUI Hon-kwong

According to Attachment 5 in Article 43’s operating details of the National Security Law, police can request data from organizations considered as “foreign agents” in regards to their activities in Hong Kong.

“Our organization strongly disagrees with the claim that we are foreign agents […] If you wish to claim that we are working on behalf of someone, then we are working on behalf the consciences of Hongkongers, rather than any foreign country’s interest. […] The authorities are trying to force us to submit a mass amount of data, so that the civil society will be engulfed in fear. We are sending a clear message that the intimidation will stop here, and the Alliance will not help you in spreading the fear.” Tonyee Chow said assertively at the press conference.

On Sept 7, the submission deadline set by the police, the four standing members of the Alliance Tonyee Chow, Tsui Hon-kwong, Tang Ngok-kwan and Simon Leung Kam-wai - went to the Police National Security Department to submit the reply letter illustrating that they are not a foreign agent, and therefore will not submit any data. The next morning morning, all of four of them, along with one more committee member, were arrested and later charged for “not submitting data in accordance with police notification”.

“They expected to be arrested long before this happened, but they still refused to submit any data. This sends a clear and positive message that the Alliance will defend their principles with everything they could, and they will not snitch on anyone. It doesn't matter if the data itself can be regarded as criminal evidence, or whether the police can acquire it by other means; the act of submitting the data would itself severely damage the civil society's cohesiveness and trust,” a senior Alliance volunteer told Stand News, under the pseudonym Bong.

2021.09.07 TSUI Hon-kwong (third from right) applies as an individual to the High Court for a judicial review to invalidate Police's letter of demand for information

In the past few months, Hong Kong’s civil society has been on the edge of collapse. Some organizations announced their disbandment without warning, while others came under investigation and were pressured into silence. The standing members of the Alliance are among the few that are still active. “These standing members are trying all they can to prevent the civil society from completely falling apart. I have been working with them for many years, and it was only now that I realized that they have family burdens, that Tang Ngok-kwan has a mother-in-law who is 108 years old. Bong said that what they did was “resist for a while”, buying time for other organizations to prepare for their responses.

Committee member Tsui Hon-kwong, who is 72 years old, received an interview invitation from Stand News two days before he was arrested. He replied: “I am probably about to be arrested. The interview will need to be done soon. I also have something to say.” He was the most senior member in the committee, he accepted the interview on the same day so that he could give his “last testament”, expressing that he felt he was defamed and insulted by the accusation that Hong Kong Alliance was a “foreign agent”.

“The full name of the Alliance is 'Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement of China'," Tsui said of its Chinese name. "From day one, we declared ourselves patriots. There were two years when we used “be patriotic, love the people” as our slogan. Now we're being accused of betraying our country; wouldn't that mean I know nothing about my colleagues?”

Interviewing TSUI Hon-kwong in the eve of his arrest

Tsui, who was a teacher prior to his retirement, quickly outlined their patriotism. “There is an order to the "Five Operational Goals" of the Alliance. It was meant to lead to a democratic China step by step, working to China's benefit. I stayed in the Alliance to maintain the morale of the public. This is also something that I as a teacher should do on my own. It's about making sure the people can hear different voices, to present the truth and all different viewpoints, so that everyone can think independently and judge on their own, rather than blindly accepting answers that are given or forced upon us by the authorities.”

He knew that he would soon be arrested, be was quite calm about it. “Buddy, I once fled Singapore while I was young, and now I am 72 years old. I have seen everything. Nowadays everyone was surprised to see dissidents in China being coerced into confessing on TV; these things happened every day in Singapore when Lee Kuan Yew was in power.” He studied in Singapore and actively engaged in the social movements there, even having to paint his face black in order to escape from Singaporean Police. After the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, he became a standing member of the Hong Kong alliance from its second year until today, when he lost his freedom.

“During Tiananmen ,they were fine with murdering people; right now, refusing to submit data only gets me a 6-month jail term. Perhaps some people might think that charges in the future will be even more serious, but we will persist. If every single one of us is arrested, we will all sing a song in Stanley (prison). What song? Freedom Flower, of course!”

2021.09.15 TSUI Hon-kwong escorted to a prison bus outside Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre

Committee members are all behind bars; The Alliance becomes leaderless

In the 48 hours since the arrest of five Committee members, including Chow Hang-tung and Tsui Hon-kwong, on Sept 8 and 9, Lo Wai-ming has been busy contacting their families. "We do not yet know whether the Committee members will be charged," said Lo, a former committee member of the Alliance. "If they are released, we will go pick them up and bring them home. Otherwise, their family members have to prepare supplies for the visit. Since they have no experience in visiting detainees, they don’t know the details and procedures.”

On Sept 9, Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, secretary and former committee member of the Hong Kong Alliance, was on his way to the sentencing hearing of the June 4 case when he learnt that the police had searched the June 4th Memorial Museum.

Tsoi rushed to the scene and found that the CCTV cameras outside the museum had been smashed, and the lock on the gate had been changed. By the evening, he received news that the Alliance's warehouse in Kwai Chung had been searched for evidence. When he arrived, he found that locks of the gate had also been changed, and he could not get in.

"From the press photos, I believe the police have seized most of the items,” Richard Tsoi said gravely.

2021.09.09 Police raided the June 4th Museum to search for evidence earlier. TSOI Yiu-cheong, interviewed by the press, holding a CCTV camera damaged by the police.

He originally thought that the police were investigating for the “refusal to hand over information" charge, which would explain why they brought Simon Leung Kam-wai and Tang Ngok-kwan in handcuffs to the two premises to search for evidence. He only learned later that the police were investigating for the charge of "incitement to subversion". “News reports said that the police had a court search warrant. The two committee members were not brought there as suspects, but as the heads of the Alliance.” Richard Tsoi added.

"There should have been a lawyer present during a police search, if they were following procedures. But they weren't, and there's nothing we could do about it," Lo said helplessly. He added that the police had left a written note outside the June 4th Memorial Museum, saying "please contact the Mong Kok Police Station"; when they called the phone number on the note, however, they could not find their counterparts. "I don't know what we can do."

When asked why the police didn't inform the other persons in charge of the Alliance about the search, Tsoi answered, “Which one could they notify? They've imprisoned all the committee members.”

On the same evening, the Department of Justice formally charged the Alliance's Chairperson Li Cheuk-yan, Vice-Chairpersons Albert Ho Chun-yan and Tonyee Chow, and the Alliance with "inciting subversion of state power". The Alliance's Committee members Tonyee Chow, Leung Kam-wai, Tsui Hon-kwong, Tang Ngok-kwan and Chan To-wai were also charged with "failing to comply with the notification requirement to provide information".

Alfred LO, former HKA committee member

To leave or to stay, that is the question

Towards the end of 2020, the Hong Kong Alliance elected members to their standing committee. Due to the political risks imposed by the National Security Law, the Alliance decided to reduce the size of their committee, from 20 members down to 14. With the resignation of Richard Tsoi Yiu-Cheong, Alfred Lo Wai-Ming, and five others, the standing committee members number further decreased to 7, as of Jul 10, 2020.

“The 'downsizing' hopefully reduces the potential damage that may be dealt to the organization. We had also thought of imitating Charter 77 of former Czechoslovakia; at that time, if a spokesperson was arrested, another would be elected to take their place.” Lo said.

The Alliance faced hardship after hardship for the entire month of September. On Sept 10, the government's Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-Keung suggested to remove the Alliance from the Companies Register. On Sept 16, the Alliance complied with police orders to remove their webpage and social media accounts, such as Facebook and YouTube. These online sites contained much historical documentation about the June 4 Tiananmen Massacre.

2021.09.09 Police removing evidences from the June 4th Museum

On the following day, Albert Ho Chun-yan, who was in prison on an incitement charge, announced that he resigned as a vice-chair of the Alliance and left the organization. Currently, the only members remaining are chairperson Lee Cheuk-yan, vice-chair Tonyee Chow, and standing committee members Tsui Hon-Kwong, Tang Ngok-Kwan, Chan To-Wai, and Simon Leung Kam-Wai, all of whom are either serving sentences or in custody. However, there were no motions to re-elect members into the standing committee, as the Alliance had announced on Sept 5 that they would call for an extraordinary general meeting on Sept 25, in order to decide on a resolution to call up a voluntary winding-up and dissolution of the Alliance.

Ah Pong, a long-time volunteer, stated that the extraordinary general meeting was originally planned to be held at the June 4 Museum. The Museum had been locked down and investigated by the Police and would have required a standing committee member to change the meeting venue. The Museum was re-opened on Sept 21, allowing the meeting to take place as planned. Regarding the Secretary of Security’s suggestion on removing the Alliance from the Companies Register, the six remaining standing committee members still have to pass the written representation that needed to be submitted before the 24th. “As they can't meet in person, they held their discussion by passing messages through their lawyers."

Ah Pong added that since before the June 4 anniversary this year, “middlemen” began to contact various standing committee members, claiming that many may get involved or even be sentenced to prison if the Alliance did not dissolve. They also mentioned a deadline, of which there were many rumors. “Rumors were flying, the most prominent one being that the organization won’t survive past October 1.”

Choi stated that he would vote in favor of dissolving the Alliance in the general meeting. He believed that the political environment had deteriorated beyond his expectations, “as if things that we've built up for decades were suddenly gone.” He did not deny having been contacted by one of those “middlemen”, but believed that the bigger problem lay in the worsening political environment.

2021.09.09 After the police finished their raid, TSOI Yiu-cheong returns to the June 4th Museum which has its gate shut with an attached note showing a phone number of Mong Kok Police Station

Some advocated for dissolution, but others advocated for persisting. Ah Pong stated that he would vote for keeping the organization from dissolution. “If we followed the government’s timetable [to dissolve the organization], it would be unfair to those who had given up sweat and tears [for us]. Lee Cheuk-yan, Ho Chun-yan, and Chow Hang-Tung, who have been charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power’, know they are targets, but they still used their remaining freedoms to call on dignity and conscience in the civil society.” Ah Pong added that he had always seen Lee Cheuk-yan as a role model, believing that the organization needed to be responsible to society.

“Back then, on the flight, he was the first to come out and stand before [them]. From start to end, he’d never changed.” Ah Pong was referring to the incident on June 5, 1989, when Beijing police officers boarded a plane headed to Hong Kong to investigate two Hongkongers with passport issues. Lee Cheuk-yan stood up then, stating, “This flight is my responsibility.” The police officers checked his passport, and took only him away.

Tsui Hon-Kwong was against the dissolution at the time of the interview, before his arrest. During the interview, he was reading through an article in pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po about him, Tonyee Chow, and Tang Ngok-Kwan, stating that he did not know what to feel about it. “They took pictures of us three secretly, then made up a story of how Chow was against the dissolution and I was for it, saying the two of us argued endlessly, until Tonyee walked away at the end. How absurd!”

TSUI Hon-kwong on the day of interview, wearing a June 4th memorial T-shirt

In fact, he agreed with what Chow said in the press conference that the Alliance faced a dilemma. One is that rumors have spread throughout civil society, with different organizations dissolving. If the Alliance dissolved, they could potentially save and protect some new blood. But on the other hand, they did not wish to go with the flow. “If we just let civil society fall apart on its own, we will lose even more space. Following the example of Szeto Wah’s many refusals to dissolve the organization, I would want to support the civil society’s right to survive.”

He admitted that he had friends that claimed they received information from China and tried to persuade him. “It is a tough decision, dissolving the Alliance. But it is the best choice now. Just for now, leave behind principles that we’ve for and strove for.”

He rebutted: “How can we leave behind those principles we had stood by for 32 years? Also, the [political] persecutions are not focused mainly on whether we dissolve or not. It is based on political necessity. How hard the persecutions come down can rise and fall, as they need to pretend that all is well and to produce a fake narrative, where no one emigrating, everyone adores the regime, and the elections are 'perfected', where commerce thrives, and that a new age had dawned upon us. But those are lies.”

Before the general meeting, the chair and vice-chair of the Alliance, who were charged with “inciting subversion of state power” and now in prison or in custody, had stated their individual opinions publicly.

Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho Chun-yan published an open letter on Sept 20 together, calling for organization members to support dissolving the Alliance. The letter stated that, “considering the current social environment, we believe that the best way for the Alliance is to dissolve voluntarily.”

Tonyee Chow also published an open letter, but in opposition, “I chose not to leave behind this organization and support it to the end. Although I am now carrying four charges related to the Alliance and June 4 and foreseeing a long life in prison, what I value more is whether this political trial would have the power to weaken Hongkongers’ history of resistance and reduce it to fragmented individual resistance. This may have long-lasting consequences, not only on those who stay and persist, but also on the future of civil society in Hong Kong…”

Tonyee CHOW, Vice Chairperson of HKA

Whether or not the Hong Kong Alliance would dissolve remains to be seen. But, ever since its creation, the Alliance has been treated by China as a “treasonous organization”. The pressure to dissolve the organization had always been present.

Szeto Wah once stated that one year after the June Fourth Tiananmen massacre, then Senior Member of the Legislative Council Allen Lee Peng-Fei had a meeting with him per then-Governor David Wilson’s request. He had asked Szeto to dissolve the Alliance to soothe relations between the UK and China. Szeto recalled in a 1997 episode of Hong Kong Connections titled “Hand in Hand” (手牽手), “Lee Peng-Fei met me and asked me to dissolve the Alliance, and the first sentence he said to me was ‘many people then had bet on the wrong side. I answered him then, ‘I never bet. If I am to bet, I will bet on my life.’ Quoting a poem from Lin Zexu, ‘If it is good for my country, I will give my life for it. How can I avoid things because they are difficult and approach things because they are easy?’ (苟利國家生死以,豈因禍福避趨之) As long as it’s good for the country, I would do it even if it meant death.”

The Bull: "Uncle Wah, Hong Kong has changed"

"If Uncle Wah [Ed: Nickname of Szeto Wah] lived on, he would rather be put behind bars than disband the Alliance. He would carry it on," the Bull [Ed: Nickname of Tsang Kin-shing] said. The Hong Kong Alliance has come a long way. Whether it can continue depends on its members’ commitment. "Many of them have lost courage to resist. But as you see, Chow Hang-tung has been holding on."

In this afternoon, Tsang went alone to pay respect to his late friend, Szeto Wah, at the Cape Collinson Crematorium. He wrapped a piece of tissue paper over the tip of a broom that he found in the Crematorium and started to sweep away the dust covered on Uncle Wah’s gravestone. He stood respectfully there for a long while before he took a deep bow and left.

“I told Uncle Wah that Hong Kong has changed. The Hong Kong Alliance has been maliciously attacked. Many core members have gone. However, as an old friend, I will stay on as long as I can, despite a price to pay. Nowadays, only those ‘who submit will prosper, while those who go against it perish.’ I also asked for his blessing for Hong Kong and the Alliance.” 

The Bull was a long-time standing committee member of the Hong Kong Alliance for over a decade before he withdrew his membership. In April 2021, he saw a wave of membership withdrawals from the Alliance. He mobilised members of the League of Social Democrats to join the Alliance. Previously, his Council office and organization Democratic Platform (民主台) were supporting members of the Alliance.

Tsang Kin-shing said he will join the Extraordinary General Meeting on September 25, 2021. His position on whether the Alliance should be disbanded or retained has changed several times.

Initially, he wanted to retain the Hong Kong Alliance, believing that it was law-abiding, and it did not collude with foreign forces. “End One-party Rule” was a slogan, which was also used by the League of Social Democrats. However, when he found out that five standing committee members of the Alliance were arrested for “failing to comply with the information submission order”, he decided to let go and support disbandment. “They could be imprisoned indefinitely. I do not want to create any more trouble to them.” 

Bull TSANG Kin-shing

The Bull claimed that he will continue organize June 4th vigil even when the Alliance is disbanded or banned. “We could explore the small space allowed under legal framework. Perhaps, we could organize small scale rallies for not more than 29 people or 49 people, like those in 1988, so that we don't need to apply for the police “No Objection Notice”. In short, we must take heed and avoid red lines, otherwise we could be severely prosecuted.”

Tsang recalled that organizing the June 4 vigil this year [2021] was like walking on thin ice. The police locked Victoria Park down. He moved his pop-up stall to Jardine Place in Causeway Bay, where he displayed two light boxes that read “Release Political Dissidents” and “Resist; Never Yield”. He gave out candles and played songs to commemorate June 4 massacre, just like the old days. 

At 8pm, he switched off light boxes and shut down the music. He held a candle in his hands and stood in silent tribute for 1 minute.

“At that time, several hundred people were there at Jardine Place. All of them switched on flashlights on their handphones and stood in silent tribute for 1 minute spontaneously.”

2021.06.04 - Bull TSANG and Citizens' Radio Station host a street stall in Causeway Bay

A debate beyond the trial

On the day when Tonyee Chow, who was under detention, was charged with "inciting subversion of state power", she said through her lawyer, "I felt relieved on the second thought after hearing the words 'inciting subversion'. Since the dust has settled, let's have an open and honest debate. Should the massacre be held accountable and the one-party dictatorship end, rather than dwelling on accusations like 'foreign agents'? Let's face these demands from the people, and see which side of the argument is the right one."

The case was arraigned and reviewed on bail on September 10 and 15 respectively. The trial judge Peter Law Tak-Chuen refused to waive the restrictions on media coverage of the bail process under section 9P of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance.

Can this "open and honest debate" truly begin?

"It is not certain." said Eric Lai Yan-Ho, a researcher of Hong Kong law at Georgetown University's Center for Asian Law, "If the court, the Hong Kong government, or the Office for Safeguarding National Security (CPGNSO) decided to hold a secret trial, or send the case to China in accordance with the National Security Law the debate might not be possible. Article 55 of the National Security Law states that under certain circumstances, CPGNSO in Hong Kong may exercise jurisdiction over the case, while the Supreme People's Procuratorate of China shall designate a prosecuting body, and the Supreme People's Court of China shall appoint a court to adjudicate it, in accordance with the provisions of Criminal Procedure Law of China."

"Perhaps, as in the case of Tong Ying-Kit, would there be no jury in the case for the Hong Kong Alliance? It's possible, because the National Security Law allows this option. But when they make that choice, they have to weigh the political and judicial costs themselves."

Photo by Kenji WONG: 2019.06.04 June 4th Vigil, Tonyee CHOW wearing a green belt on her left arm

However, he believes that Chow's "debate" is a debate that goes beyond the trial itself.

In his last column article "Farewell to the Hong Kong Alliance, and Refuting Chow Wing-Sun" in Ming Pao News on Sept 14, Eric Lai wrote, "It asks everyone, including those working inside and outside the system, to ask themselves: Would I choose to answer honestly what I believe whether it's right or wrong, or would I belittle our core values through relativism and opportunistically submitting to the logic of the authorities? In other words, the justice in this debate is left in the hands of the people and history."

In his view, the regime's hidden agenda is to rewrite the history of the June 4 Massacre, by charging the Alliance with the National Security Law.

2021.06.04 - 32nd anniversary of the June 4th incident

"Since 1989, the Hong Kong Alliance has been classified as a subversive organisation by the Chinese Communist Party. But in the past, the regime was cowed by the huge public pressure to commemorate the June 4 massacre. They knew that putting the Alliance on a trial would affect public confidence in 'One Country, Two Systems’, leading to a huge backlash. But after passing the National Security Law, social movements have declined, and civil society groups have disbanded. It is difficult to return to the levels of 2019 or before, so now the regime has the confidence to 'wipe out' the Alliance once and for all."

He believes that the Alliance is not only an organisation, but also a symbol that reminds the Hong Kong people of the June 4 Tienanmen Massacre and the 1989 Democracy Movement. It is an important inspiration in the fight for democracy.

But if the Alliance were "eradicated", will Hongkongers forget about the June 4th incident?

"It's also unlikely. But when the Alliance as a symbol disappears, and the regime wants to rewrite history, it will introduce new symbols to interpret the movement. Or they might deny the certain contents of the movement, such as criminalizing the 'Ending the One-Party Dictatorship'** slogan with the National Security Law, which would discourage people from chanting this slogan spontaneously in the future, followed by worries that chanting the other four slogans of the Alliance would be illegal as well."

[**Editor note: The other four slogans are: 'Release pro-democracy activists', 'Vindicate the 1989 pro-democracy movement', 'Hold the massacre accountable', and 'Build a democratic China']

He believes that such tactics will gradually lead to a change in the public's interpretation of the June 4 massacre. "In fact, our interpretation of June 4 has changed over time, but they were not in support of the regime. For example, the "localism" discussions have made the public more dissatisfied with the Chinese regime. Now that the authorities have put the Alliance in court, the court will use technical reasons to change our interpretation of the 1989 democracy movement, the June 4 massacre, and even describing the mourning of the June 4 incident as slandering the Chinese government and undermining the Chinese constitution, just like in Macau."

He said that civil society is not only about the survival of organisations, but also about the willingness of each citizen to participate in public affairs, and maintain the connections with each other. Whether the history of the June 4 massacre will be rewritten depends very much on the trial of Hong Kong Alliance in the coming future: how would it defends itself in the court, whether the trial would be public, and how the public would learn about the details of the proceedings. These are all factors that may change the future of civil society.

"From past experience, the defendants' plea bargain, the public's will and support for the defendants or the protesters has a great impact on the values of a civil society, as seen in the cases of 'Nine Occupy Central Activists' and the case of 'August 18 rally'. The defending speech made by Benny Tai Yiu-Ting and Chu Yiu-Ming were highly moving. Therefore, there is no absolute answer as to whether the public will become silent."

Photo by Kenji WONG: 2021.06.04 A policeman walking through a playground in Victoria Park

On September 24, Tonyee Chow wrote a handwritten letter from prison, replying to the Secretary for Security's proposal to remove the Alliance from the Company Register. Chow mentioned a 56-page annex of the proposal from the CPGNSO, which contained accusations against the Alliance and the 1989 democracy movement, such as the allegation that the Tiananmen Incident was a counter-revolutionary riot intended to overthrow the leadership of the CCP and subvert the socialist People's Republic of China (#PRC); the June 4 candlelight vigil organised by the Alliance, its agenda of "releasing of pro-democracy activists", "vindicating the 1989 democracy movement", and "holding the massacre accountable" legitimized and glorified/justified the "Tiananmen Incident". The two other agendas of "Ending one-party dictatorship" and "building a democratic China" were said to be challenging the leadership of the CCP and called for the establishment of a political system that was inconsistent with the Constitution. jeopardize the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the country.

Before the disbandment of the Hong Kong Alliance, the battle for discourse on June 4 massacre has already begun.

In her letter, Chow insists on refuting these allegations and concludes with these words: "The Alliance has been in Hong Kong for 32 years, and has always stood for justice and democracy in its Five Operating Goals, which have won the respect and support of countless people in Hong Kong and the country. The government is trying to outlaw it as an illegal organisation overnight and stigmatize the participation of millions of people over the past 32 years. This is no different than declaring the people as its enemy."

Regarding the future of this organization, now in its 32nd year, Bong was not optimistic. "The Alliance may be coming to a tragic ending. I hope every one of us will continue to safeguard the truth of June 4."

2021.06.04 Children lighting up candles in Tin Shui Wai

#HKASPDMC #HongKongAlliance #NSL #NationalSecurityLaw

#June4 #TiananmenMassacre #DemocracyMovement

#SzetoWah #ChowHangTung #TonyeeChow #TsangKinShing #LeeCheukYan #AlbertHo

Source: The Stand News #Sep24