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Concerts Canceled, Activists Sentenced in Hong Kong Crackdown | WIVT


FILE – In this file photo from June 8, 2016, Cantonese pop singer Denise Ho speaks during an interview in Hong Kong. Popular Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist Ho will not be allowed to perform at any of Hong Kong’s top theaters later in September 2021, days after a pro-Beijing newspaper accused her of ‘be anti-China. (AP Photo / Vincent Yu, file)

HONG KONG (AP) – A popular Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist will not be allowed to perform at any of the city’s top theaters later this month, indicating that a crackdown by the dissent authorities reached the sphere of entertainment and culture. .

The Hong Kong Arts Center cited a public safety clause in canceling Denise Ho’s room reservations for her concerts, according to a statement posted on Facebook Wednesday by the singer’s company, Goomusic.

Separately, a court sentenced seven pro-democracy activists to between 11 and 16 months in prison for an unauthorized rally during anti-government protests in 2019.

The cancellation of Ho’s concerts came days after pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao accused her of being “anti-China” because of her involvement in the 2019 pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Ho is an outspoken activist who participated in widespread protests in 2014 and again in 2019 aimed at protecting Hong Kong’s long-standing civil liberties from mainland Chinese interference.

“One can’t help but wonder how the Hong Kong Arts Center, as an independent institution supporting contemporary art that has existed for 44 years, can now arbitrarily suspend contracts without substantial evidence? Goomusic said.

The Hong Kong Arts Center did not respond to an email request for comment.

Ho’s sold-out concerts were scheduled for September 8-12.

The cancellation has fueled fears that Hong Kong’s thriving cultural scene, which in the past was known for its free speech, could be the latest target as Beijing tightens its control over the city.

Over the past year, authorities in Hong Kong have arrested dozens of pro-democracy activists and passed electoral reforms that would reduce the number of directly elected lawmakers in the city.

The seven convicted activists pleaded guilty to charges, including organizing and instigating others to participate in the unauthorized meeting on October 20, 2019. Among them were lawyer Albert Ho and Figo Chan, chief of the Disbanded Human Rights Front.

Of the seven, only one – Raphael Wong of the League of Social Democrats political party – was not already serving a prison sentence. The other six had been sentenced earlier for other unauthorized gatherings.

Critics have accused authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong of limiting the freedoms promised to the city when it was handed over by the British to mainland China in 1997.

According to Goomusic, the Hong Kong Arts Center canceled the reservation under a clause stating that it could terminate the reservation of a place if the person renting the place did not abide by the terms and conditions in circumstances where “l public order or public safety would be endangered. . “

Ho’s company said the Hong Kong Arts Center told Goomusic representatives that it was “obliged to closely observe recent developments in the company.”

Ho’s company said it will reimburse ticket buyers and the singer will broadcast her concert live instead on September 12.

“We may face constraints in performance venues, but the stage itself is not limited by boundaries, Goomusic said.

The cancellation came days after Hong Kong director Kiwi Chow was fined 5,000 Hong Kong dollars ($ 640) for allegedly flouting coronavirus restrictions at a private film screening .

Chow, who directed the films “Ten Years” and “Revolution of our Times” on the city’s democratic movement, held a private screening of his film “Beyond the Dream” last week.

Authorities raided the screening and accused attendees of flouting social distancing rules, as public gatherings in Hong Kong are currently limited to four people.

Chow said the private screening was limited to friends only, telling a local radio show that he would not pay the fine and take the case to court instead. The city’s social distancing restrictions do not apply to private gatherings.

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