Hong Kong: Apple Daily founder, Jimmy Lai arrested for Tiananmen vigil

Jimmy Lai, high profile chairman of Next Gen and founder of Apple Daily was arrested on the June 11 on incitement charges relating to the Tiananmen commemoration vigil. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on the Hong Kong government to drop all charges against Jimmy Lai.

Jimmy Lai arrives at court on May 18 on charges related to last years pro-democracy demonstrations. Credit: ANTHONY WALLACE / AFP

Jimmy Lai was charged with inciting others to participate in an unauthorized assembly along with three other pro-democracy organisers. Nine more activists and protesters were arrested on the June 12 over their involvement in the Tiananmen vigil on June 4. Lai’s court hearing is set for June 23.

The candlelit vigil, commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen massacre, has been an annual occurrence in Hong Kong for the past 30 years. However, this year citing public health reasons, the police denied the application for vigil and threatened consequences if any gatherings exceeded eight people. Although the commemoration hosted over a thousand peaceful protesters, legislators who took part in the vigil denied any involvement in calling people to join. Several other high-profile leaders have spoken out against the incident including Democratic Party lawmaker, James To-Kun, who has condemned the Hong Kong government for breaching the International Bill of Human Rights which provides for the right to peaceful assembly.

This is the third time Lai has been charged over organizing an unauthorized assembly, having been arrested for his role in a series of demonstrations from August to October last year. He is also facing several other charges in relation to his participation in the same demonstrations as well as a count of criminal intimidation. Lai has been forced to remain in Hong Kong indefinitely with the government extending his travel ban, following his recent arrests.

The IFJ said: “The repeated arrests of Jimmy Lai by Hong Kong authorities indicates an ulterior motive to upholding the law, threatening freedom of expression with political and legal manoeuvres. The IFJ urges the Hong Kong government to drop all charges against Jimmy Lai.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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