The Hong Kong Alliance has refused to hand over data on its supporters to the HK police. Its only leader still at liberty, Chow Hang-tung, has been taken into custody. Along with Lee Cheuk Yan (chair of the Alliance, and already jailed) and Albert Ho, he has been charged with “incitement to subversion”.
The HK Alliance is the organisation that organised the annual 4 June Tiananmen commemoration.
Five weeks earlier, the teachers’ union HKPTU, similarly threatened with investigation on grounds of subversion, had dissolved itself.
That HKPTU decision signalled to individual teachers that they would be on their own if they faced disciplinary action or arrest under the new clampdown.
Virtually all the leading democratic activists of 2019-2020 are in jail or facing investigation and trial.
The League of Social Democrats (LSD) and trade unionists like Lee Cheuk Yan have been defiant like the Alliance.
In the lead up to his trial for alleged unauthorised assembly, the LSD’s Vice Chair Raphael Wong explained their tactics. “The judge won’t like what we say during mitigation” — the only opportunity the defendants have to address the court – “but we have to do it because this is our responsibility”.
On 1 September, Wong raised his fist in the air as he walked into the courtroom and stated in his “mitigation plea”: “I have nothing to be ashamed of and no remorse for what I did on that day”.
Other LSD leaders such as Figo Chan, Avery Ng, and Leung Kwok-hung (Long Hair), also sentenced on 1 September to 11 to 16 months in jail, have also been defiant.
Those figures, and the HKPTU leaders, are of the largely older political generation that preceded the “localists” of 2014-2020. We don’t know the current political mood of those who took to the streets of Hong Kong in 2019-20 rebellion, when the localists were central.
Soon after the NSL came in, most of the localists disbanded their organisations. Their leading figures were speedily imprisoned, like Joshua Wong, or went into exile, like Nathan Law, also from the disbanded group Demosistos.
2013 dock strike activist Tiffany Yuen, also ex-Demosistos, joined a protest with 17 other political prisoners on 3 September when police sent in a special squad with dogs to Lo Wu Correctional Institution.
We don’t know whether fear or defiance will dominate among the hundreds of thousands of HongKongers who took to the streets in 2019-2020. Partly it will depend on international solidarity.
The UK government will do nothing that will offend its business sponsors who have mega-billion deals with the Chinese government. Solidarity has to be the work of the labour movement and the left.
The trial will on 23 September 23 of 47 leading activists charged under the National Security Law with subversion for standing in Hong Kong’s 2020 democratic primaries.