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A person was arrested in Hong Kong on suspicion of sedition after enjoying the harmonica at a vigil for Queen Elizabeth II, underneath a colonial-era legislation that when outlawed insulting the Queen – and has now been revived by authorities amid an ongoing crackdown.
Movies posted to social media present lots of of individuals gathering outdoors the town’s British consulate on Monday night time to pay tribute to the Queen, as her funeral befell in London – an occasion heavy with political significance within the former British colony, the place mourning the monarch has grow to be a delicate type of protest.
Many live-streamed the funeral procession on their telephones, whereas others held up candles and laid flowers at a memorial website.
One video reveals a person enjoying on his harmonica the tune “Glory to Hong Kong,” a protest anthem created through the depths of the pro-democracy, anti-government protests that rocked the town in 2019.
The rousing ballad, which incorporates such lyrics as “For Hong Kong, could freedom reign,” grew to become an anthem of the pro-democracy motion and performances of it have been considered thousands and thousands of instances on YouTube.
On the vigil on Tuesday, crowds waved iPhone flashlights at the hours of darkness and sang alongside to the harmonica, some beginning a chant that has additionally grow to be synonymous with the protests: “Hong Kong, add oil.”
Pictures then present law enforcement officials arriving and escorting the person into their van.
When CNN requested police in regards to the harmonica participant, they responded saying a 43-year-old man surnamed Pang had been arrested that night time at round 9:30 p.m. He was suspected of committing acts of sedition, and was detained for questioning – then launched on bail pending investigation, police mentioned.
He shall be required to report again to police in late November.
Hong Kong’s sedition legislation is a part of a 1938 Crimes Ordinance, as soon as utilized by the colonial authorities to focus on pro-China teams and publications – particularly after the Chinese language Communist Celebration got here to energy, and through anti-government protests in 1967.
It initially outlined sedition as speech that introduced “hatred or contempt” in opposition to the Queen, her heirs, or the Hong Kong authorities.
The legislation had remained unused for many years till it was revived in 2020 – alongside Beijing’s introduction of a sweeping nationwide safety legislation, which targets secession, subversion, collusion with international forces and terrorist actions.
A conviction underneath the sedition legislation carries a most two-year sentence.
The revival of the legislation – and its use amid a broader crackdown by Hong Kong and Beijing authorities – has drawn criticism from activists and humanitarian organizations around the globe.
In July, the UN’s Human Rights Committee urged Hong Kong to repeal the sedition legislation, saying it was involved it might restrict residents’ “authentic proper to freedom of speech.”
The Hong Kong authorities has repeatedly denied that the sedition legislation or nationwide safety legislation – which has been used to arrest activists, journalists, protesters and former elected lawmakers – pose any threat to folks’s freedoms.
The sedition legislation “just isn’t meant to silence expression of any opinion that’s solely real criticism in opposition to the federal government based mostly on goal info,” it mentioned in response to the UN, including that the nationwide safety legislation “has swiftly and successfully restored stability and safety” after the 2019 protests.
The crackdown has seen the regular erosion of civil liberties in what was as soon as a free-wheeling metropolis with an impartial press and wealthy protest tradition.
Most professional-democracy teams have disbanded, their leaders both imprisoned or pressured into exile, and mass demonstrations are all however banned.
With out conventional avenues of protest – folks have now been arrested for social media posts and even for publishing youngsters’s books deemed seditious – the Queen’s loss of life emerged this month as an surprising alternative for dissent.
In celebrating the monarchy and its symbols, some Hong Kongers see a chance for a veiled dig at each the Chinese language Communist Celebration, which has made no secret of its eagerness for Hong Kongers to overlook the period, and native authorities who lately launched faculty books that declare the town was by no means even a colony to start with.
A retiree named Wing, who spoke to CNN outdoors the consulate on Monday however declined to present his full title, mentioned it was “unimaginable” to be a part of a mass gathering once more.
“I really feel offended that the Hong Kong authorities just isn’t displaying any respect correctly (to the Queen). They’re afraid of the Chinese language authorities telling them off, however we had been a part of the colony,” mentioned Wing, who was born within the Sixties.
The shows of affection are additionally a reminder of the town’s pro-democracy protests, throughout which demonstrators adopted the colonial flag as an indication of resistance to Chinese language one-party rule.
Nonetheless, different critics have identified that even underneath British rule, Hong Kongers didn’t have common suffrage. And lots of felt London uncared for its obligation by failing to grant British citizenship to Hong Kongers on the time of the handover, as an alternative providing most a restricted passport that didn’t give them the appropriate to dwell and work in Britain.
Because the introduction of the nationwide safety legislation, Britain has created what it calls a path to citizenship through a brand new sort of visa.