Hong Kong (AFP) – 13 distinguished Hong Kong democracy activists appeared in court docket on Monday charged with holding an unauthorised gathering to mark the Tiananmen Sq. crackdown, the most recent in a string of prosecutions towards protest leaders within the stressed monetary hub.Final month tens of hundreds of Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June four anniversary of Beijing’s lethal 1989 crackdown towards college students pushing for democracy.The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the final three a long time and normally attracts large crowds. It has taken on specific significance in recent times because the semi-autonomous metropolis chafes beneath Beijing’s more and more authoritarian rule.This yr’s vigil was banned for the primary time with authorities citing coronavirus measures. On the time native transmission had largely been halted.However hundreds turned out to carry candles of their neighbourhoods and in Victoria Park, the normal web site of the vigil.Police later arrested 13 main activists who appeared on the Victoria Park vigil.All appeared in court docket on Monday to be formally charged with “inciting” an illegal meeting, which carries as much as 5 years in jail.Amongst them are Jimmy Lai, the millionaire proprietor of the overtly pro-democracy Apple newspaper, veteran democracy activists corresponding to Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho in addition to younger campaigner Figo Chan.When requested if he understood the cost, Lee invoked the tons of who had been killed by Chinese language tanks and troopers at Tiananmen.”That is political persecution,” he stated. “The true incitement is the bloodbath carried out by the Chinese language Communist Celebration 31 years in the past.”A few of these charged on Monday — and lots of different main democracy figures — face separate prosecutions associated to final yr’s large and infrequently violent pro-democracy protests.China’s leaders have rejected calls to provide Hong Kongers common suffrage and portrayed the protests as a plot by foreigners to destabilise the motherland.Story continuesEarlier this month Beijing imposed a sweeping nationwide safety legislation aimed toward stamping out the protests as soon as and for all.The legislation targets subversion, secession, terrorism and overseas collusion, with sentences together with life in jail.However its broad phrasing — corresponding to a ban on encouraging hatred in direction of China’s authorities — has despatched worry rippling by means of a metropolis used to having the ability to communicate its thoughts.Police have arrested folks for possessing pro-independence or autonomy materials, libraries and faculties have pulled books, political events have disbanded and one distinguished opposition politician has fled.The legislation bypassed Hong Kong’s legislature and its contents had been saved secret till the second it was enacted.It empowered China’s safety equipment to arrange store overtly in Hong Kong for the primary time, whereas Beijing has additionally claimed jurisdiction for some severe nationwide safety circumstances — ending the authorized firewall between the mainland town’s unbiased judiciary.China has additionally introduced international jurisdiction to pursue nationwide safety crimes dedicated by anybody outdoors of Hong Kong and China, together with foreigners.