© Alex Chan Tsz Yuk

HONG KONG: Chow Hang-tung

Human rights lawyer and labour rights advocate Chow Hang-tung, currently imprisoned, was charged for “inciting subversion” under the National Security Law (NSL) in September 2021 and faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Together with other core members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the Alliance), she was targeted simply for peacefully commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

The NSL was passed and enacted in Hong Kong in June 2020. The law’s expansive definition of “national security”, which follows that of the Chinese central authorities, lacks clarity and legal predictability and has been used arbitrarily as a pretext to restrict the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, among others, and to repress dissent and political opposition.

For three decades, the Hong Kong Alliance organized the world’s biggest commemoration of the Tiananmen crackdown, Every year on 4 June since 1990, tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of people joined a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to remember those killed.

On 8 September 2021, Chow and three former leaders of the Alliance, Simon Leung Kam-wai, Tang Ngok-kwan and Chan Dor-wai, were arrested after they refused to comply with the authorities’ request to submit information about the Alliance’s members, staff, and partner organizations. Another former leader Tsui Hon-kwong was arrested two days after.

Following the initiation of prosecutions against core members and increasing pressure from the government, the Hong Kong Alliance disbanded on 25 September 2021.

Chow Hang-tung is a long-term human rights defender. Prior to becoming a human rights lawyer, she was an advocate for labour rights and human rights defenders in China. As a barrister in Hong Kong, she has defended political activists targeted by the NSL.

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