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Activists call for support of jailed mainland dissidents

An activist group organised a temporary exhibition in Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui Wednesday evening, calling for support of jailed activists in mainland China.  


The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China hopes the Democracy Lantern Action can make the public pay more attention to the "patriots" in custody and the human rights issue in the mainland, said Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, vice president of the organisation, referring to dissidents such as the 709 lawyers, a group of lawyers under government surveillance.


The number 709 refers to the fact that the lawyers were arrested on July 9 in 2015.


"The annual event we hold next to the Tsim Sha Tsui harbour every year at Mid-Autumn Festival is to advocate for those in custody who cannot get united with their family members," he said.


"We also hope to increase awareness on the suppression on the defendants of human rights in mainland on the night of a traditional Chinese festival when people unite with their family members," he added.


Chow Hang-tung, barrister and vice president of the Hong Kong Alliance, also regarded the Mid-Autumn Festival as a symbolic time to call for the activists' reunion with their families as it is when Chinese families traditionally gather to celebrate.


"The most vocal lawyers have been either placed in jail or put on probation since the 709 crackdown, severely reducing the number of human rights lawyers who can still work effectively" said Chow, who believes that the situation for mainland human rights lawyers has worsened since the jailings in 2015.

The alliance has delivered moon cakes to the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government on Chinese National day on Monday, asking for the release of jailed mainland dissidents to reunite with their families.


The event attracted both local and mainland visitors.


"We came to this event to have more information about the lawyer issue. In China we can not see these kind of activities but in Hong Kong it's quite normal. We are happy to enjoy it," said an attendee from the mainland who moved to Hong Kong two months ago with his family.


In June this year, the Hong Kong Alliance held its annual June 4 vigil in

remembrance of those killed in the democracy protest on the same day in 1989 near Tiananmen Square in Beijing.


Recently, the Hong Kong Alliance has lost some support from the young generation and other pro-democracy groups which believe that the democratisation on the mainland should not be Hong Kong's focus.


Meanwhile, some pro-Beijing organisations expressed their opposition towards the Hong Kong Alliance.


What Hong Kong Alliance calls for is not true "democracy", said Kenny Po Chun-chung, president of Defend Hong Kong Campaign, a local pro-Beijing organisation.


"The Hong Kong Alliance is so authoritarian and closed, not open to others' opinions. They are not qualified to promote democracy," said Po.



The alliance was established on May 21 in 1989 with the purpose of supporting patriotic democratic movements in China.


It has since been a large grassroots pro-democracy advocacy group in Hong Kong.


This Democracy Lantern Action is the city's only political event on the day because other groups around the city held celebrations instead, including lantern shows, fire dragon dances and exhibitions.


《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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