Explanation: The Repression of National Security in Hong Kong – Month 16

October began with a sea of ​​red Chinese flags around the port of Tsim Sha Tsui as the patriots celebrated China’s National Day. But the crackdown on the security law continued and – over the month – a bent college student union and an international rights group announced it would close its offices in the city. Meanwhile, a monument to the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre in 1989 may soon be removed, as a new law involving the use of flags comes into force, alongside film censorship and doxxing legislation.

Since the law was enacted on June 30, 2020, 155 people have been arrested under the law and 100 of them have been charged. Authorities declined to say how many security law investigations are underway. Recent arrests have prompted UN rights experts to call for a review of the law, calling it “incompatible” with international law.

Members of the pro-Beijing group Chinese Hearts fly a large national flag in the plaza outside the Hong Kong Cultural Center in Tsim Sha Tsui on October 1, 2021. Photo: Kyle Lam / HKFP.

HKFP continues its monthly series of explanations on how the authorities are transforming Hong Kong in the name of protecting China’s national security.

Independent media banned from Nat. Day event

An event to celebrate China’s National Day organized by the pro-Beijing local media sector avoided two independent online media. Journalists from Stand News and Citizen News were not allowed to attend the reception on the grounds that they had not been invited. The event was hosted by the management of the public broadcaster RTHK, the Beijing-backed Ta Kung Wen Wei media group, the Hong Kong Economic Times and the Chinese state news wire Xinhua.

Pillar of shame

The following week, the University of Hong Kong demanded that the now disbanded group that held the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre Memorial Vigil remove a monument honoring the victims from its campus, where it has been for 24 years.

The days of the statue in the city were believed to be numbered after the national security crackdown by police against the group, the Hong Kong Alliance for Support of China’s Democratic Patriotic Movements.

Photo: Kelly Ho / HKFP.

The creator of the statue, Danish artist Jens Galschiøt, has since asserted his ownership rights to the artwork known as the Pillar of Shame, launching an international campaign to save the piece and organize its relocation. abroad.

The move prompted an expert to denounce a “political purge” on Hong Kong university campuses.

The university’s legal representative, Mayer Brown, a Chicago-based law firm, withdrew from the statute case after a week of heavy international pressure from rights groups. In response to the ruling, former managing director Leung Chun-ying called for a boycott of the law firm across China, accusing it of complying with foreign interference.

The monument still stands on the Pok Fu Lam campus and the university said it would deal with the issue in a “legal and reasonable manner.”

International rights group withdraws from city

Amnesty International said it would close its Hong Kong offices by the end of the year, citing growing uncertainty and the difficulty of operating under the security law. The regional office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific will move elsewhere in the region, while the local Amnesty office will cease operations.

Leader Carrie Lam, however, claimed there was “no way to prove” that the group left security concerns aside, saying the legislation protects basic human rights and freedoms .

Marathon runners

Police asked Standard Chartered marathon runners to cover tattoos and remove clothing that displayed the message “Add oil (keep up) Hong Kong”, a popular chant during protests in 2019 and well before. The authorities claimed that the presence of the expression constituted “political dress”.

Photo: CitizenNews.

Standard Chartered, the main sponsor, declined to say whether they supported free speech after the event.

The student union folds

Political pressure is also increasing on other university campuses. The Chinese University of Hong Kong student union has dissolved, citing growing operational difficulties after the university severed ties with it earlier this year. The union had existed for 50 years.

A former union leader warned that the role of students in the city “will only diminish further” after its dissolution.

Taiwan’s National Day celebrations are “subversive”

Security personnel have barred access to the historic “Red House” of Tuen Mun, where the founder of modern China, Sun Yat-sen, is said to have stayed as he plots a dozen revolutionary attempts against the imperial dynasty. of the Qing. The aim was to prevent any public commemoration of Taiwan National Day.

Photo: SocRec.

In the days leading up to the so-called ‘double ten days’ rumors circulated that those found celebrating the day would be arrested, after the city’s security chief warned that the celebrations could be seen as support for Taiwan independence – an act of subversion under security law.

Second trial under the security law

Ma Chun-man, the second person to be tried under the security law, was convicted of “inciting secession” by the district court for chanting and posting slogans in favor of independence Hong Kong on social media at least 20 times last year. He is to be sentenced in mid-November.

Schools to hold weekly Chinese flag raising ceremonies

The Education Bureau ordered all local schools, including kindergartens, to display the Chinese national flag and hold weekly flag raising ceremonies to instill a sense of patriotism and love. for the country in children and youth.

File photo: GovHK.

Teachers will undergo more tests on their knowledge of the Basic Law, while their social media posts will also be monitored.

Laws to be strengthened against security threats

Hong Kong passed a controversial law allowing censors to ban films deemed to be against China’s national security. The penalties include fines of up to HK $ 1 million and three years in prison. A new anti-doxxing law has been passed – violators face a fine of HK $ 1 million and five years in prison. In addition, it has become illegal to insult the Chinese flag on the Internet, with violators also risking years in prison.

More local laws will be revised to better target threats to national security, leader Carrie Lam said in her last political speech in her term.

Chief Executive Officer Carrie Lam at a press conference after delivering her 2021 political speech. Photo: Candice Chau / HKFP.

Meanwhile, a local version of the National Security Law – which will be introduced under Article 23 of the Basic Law – will criminalize more offenses deemed to be national security crimes, including espionage and theft. state secrets.

Banning projects for condemned social workers

The government is considering banning the profession for social workers convicted of national security offenses. Many social workers were on the front lines of the 2019 pro-democracy protests in what they called efforts to ease tensions between police and protesters.

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