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Hong Kong, September 9 (ANI): Twelve Hong Kong democrats have pleaded guilty to taking part in or inciting others to participate in last year's banner Tiananmen Massacre vigil.
Albert Ho, vice-chairperson of the vigil organiser of the 'Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China'; former lawmakers "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho, Yeung Sum and Eddie Chu; and Figo Chan, former convenor of the now-disbanded Civil Human Rights Front, were among the 12 defendants appearing in District Court on Thursday before Judge Amanda Woodcock, Hong Kong Free Press reported.
The others were Andrew Wan, Cheung Man-kwong, Steven Kwok, Chiu Yan-loi, Mak Hoi-wah and Leung Kwok-wah.
Seven of the 12 defendants are either serving jail sentences over other protest-related charges or are remanded in custody awaiting trial in national security cases.
Ahead of the court session, members from the League of Social Democrats rallied outside the courthouse, holding a banner that read "Peaceful assemblies are not a crime, commemorating June 4th is conscience, human rights is bigger than the regime, shame to political prosecution."
As some of the defendants stepped into the dock, people in the public gallery waved and shouted their names and "Hang in there!" The democrats waved back, and Yeung bowed towards the gallery.
Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong used to organise an annual vigil to commemorate victims of student protests that broke out in Beijing on April 15, 1989, and culminated on June 4 of that year in violent clashes, which claimed over 200 lives.
In June 2020, the police banned the vigil for the first time in 30 years in view of protests in Hong Kong over Beijing's plans to adopt new security legislation, while officially citing the need to comply with coronavirus-related restrictions.
A total of 24 people have been charged over the vigil, which was banned by the police last year citing Covid-19 health concerns. Joshua Wong, Lester Shum, Tiffany Yuen, and Janelle Leung pleaded guilty and were sentenced to jail in May.
The trial for those who plan to plead not guilty, including detained pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai, chairperson of the Alliance Lee Cheuk-yan, and vice-chairperson Chow Hang-tung, will begin in November. (ANI)