Hong Kong activists appear in court over Tiananmen Square vigil charges
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Hong Kong activists appear in court over Tiananmen Square vigil charges

A total of 24 Hong Kong activists appeared Friday in the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on charges stemming from their participation in the June 4 vigil commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The vigil has been an annual event in Hong Kong ever since the Chinese People’s Liberation Army opened fire on a crowd of pro-democracy student demonstrators gathered in and around Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. However, the gathering was outlawed in 2020, allegedly as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. When thousands took to the streets in defiance of the ban, 26 were arrested and charged with holding and knowingly taking part in an unauthorized assembly. Two of them have since fled Hong Kong.

Prominent pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong and media tycoon Jimmy Lai were among the 24 present in court on Friday. Both were released from jail to attend the preliminary hearing. Wong was sentenced to 13 months’ imprisonment for his participation in the 2019 anti-government protests. Lai had his bail revoked in January, pending a hearing on collusion charges under Hong Kong’s controversial national security law.

Of the 24 defendants, five indicated that they plan to plead guilty to the charges. These five will appear in court on April 30 to enter formal pleas and submit evidence of mitigating circumstances. The remaining defendants are scheduled to appear on June 19.