Another day of tension in Hong Kong its legislature passed a controversial law criminalizing the mockery of China’s national anthem as protesters prepared to oppose a police ban with a vigil to mark the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square cracking.
The law was passed with 41 votes for and one against the bill after a number of pro-democracy lawmakers were ejected for staging a noisy protest.
Many fear that this year̵7;s Tiananmen Square memorial will be Hong Kong’s last, as China’s proposed national security law in the semi-autonomous city is proposed to prevent and punish “acts and activities” that threaten national security .
Local media reports that more than 3,000 riot officials will be deployed to enforce bans against vigil and other gatherings.
The newly passed song law prohibits “insulting” or misusing Chinese national anthem, including “publicly and deliberately” altering its lyrics or points, and playing or singing it a “twisted or disrespectful way”.
Shortly before 1pm local time, pro-democracy lawmakers Eddie Chu and Ray Chan were ejected from the council room after protesting before a vote. After rushing to the front of the room holding placards in protest, security guards quickly escorted them and the leader of the meeting suspended the session.
Before they were brought in, Chan dropped a pot of slippery liquid on the floor. Later, he and Chu held placards out of messages: “A murderous stink lasts forever.” They said the pro-democracy camp was using any means to stop the passage of the national anthem. Most of the amendments raised by pro-democracy lawmakers to limit the power of the proposed law were voted on by pro-China lawmakers in the morning session.
The offenses under the song law are punishable by a fine of HK $ 50,000 (£ 5,150) and up to three years’ imprisonment. It also stipulated that the song should be included in school education to teach students “the history and spirit of the national anthem”.
Critics fear that unclear definitions of terms like “insult” and “cynicism” in the law could threaten freedom of expression in Hong Kong. The law coincides with Beijing’s plans to force it by repealing Hong Kong’s national security rules to ensure anti-government protests, which began a year ago. The proposed laws penalize “acts and activities” that threaten national security, including secession, subversion and terrorism and foreign invasion.
Opposition lawmakers argued that patriotism would not be forced. Some Hong Kong football fans booed the national anthem during World Cup qualifications in the past, prompting Beijing to order the law.
The song, entitled The March of the Volunteers, was written during the war of the 1930s and called on people to “get up, you refused to be slaves!”.
Thousands marched against the bill on May 24 and again last week when its second reading resumed in the legislature. Protesters dispersed by police firing pepper pellets and using water cannon.
Thousands of Hong Kongers are expected to mark the 4th anniversary of the military firing of the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement in their own localities after police banned an annual candlelit vigil that took place incessantly. for 30 years, addressing public health concerns.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of China’s Patriotic Democratic Movement, which has been vigilant for the past 30 years, asked Hong Kongers to hold individual commemorations by lighting candles wherever they were in the city during the anniversary .
Fearful reminders could soon be thwarted under national security laws, the alliance said its members still planning to gather in Victoria Park to light candles in groups of eight, to prevent breaks the government’s physical restrictions, and plans to stream the event live online.
Rights groups say the government is using Covid-19 as a measure to end freedom of expression of many restrictions, including swimming pools and religious gatherings, recently lifted due to low numbers of infections .