Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 13 months in prison for his participation in the Tiananmen Memorial. Last week, the 74-year-old activist was sinner Attending an “illegal gathering”.
Seven others were also sentenced to prison terms on the occasion of the commemoration of June 4, 2020. They were sentenced to up to 14 months in prison. In addition to Lai, owner of the pro-democracy Apple Daily, which closed last year, journalist Gwyneth Ho and well-known activist Zhao Hang Tong were also sentenced. They must go to prison for six months and twelve months.
Several activists have been convicted in recent months. They joined tens of thousands of others in remembrance last year of the victims who fell when the Chinese military brutally ended student protests on June 4, 1989.
The convictions are being interpreted as a symptom of Beijing’s tightening of its grip on Hong Kong. “I don’t think this came as a surprise to anyone,” says reporter Schord den Das. “Not to anyone in Hong Kong nor to the people involved.”
The judge also said that remembrances were not allowed in Hong Kong last year, officially in connection with the epidemic. However, according to government critics, this is due to the growing influence of Beijing. “Earlier, the useful argument was that no permit had been given,” says Dean Daas. “Now that’s something that was mentioned again, but of course corona was also included in that.”
“Many people in the pro-democracy camp have indicated up front that everything seems to be being done to put them behind bars for as long as possible. It seems to be happening at least now,” says Dean Das.
Lay himself said before the verdict was pronounced that “if it is a crime to memorialize those who have died unjustly”, he wants to face punishment for this:
“Infuriatingly humble social media buff. Twitter advocate. Writer. Internet nerd.”