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Hong Kong police arrest man who played harmonica at queen’s vigil on suspicion of sedition

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What those affected by British colonialism feel 2:22 Hong Kong (CNN) — A man has been arrested in Hong Kong on suspicion of sedition after playing the harmonica at a vigil for Queen Elizabeth II, under a law of the colonial era that prohibited insulting the queen, and which has now been reactivated by the authorities in the midst of a campaign of repression. Videos posted on social media show hundreds of people gathered in front of the British consulate in the city on Monday night to pay tribute to the queen, while her funeral was being held in London, an event of great political importance in the former British colony. , where mourning for the monarch has become a subtle form of protest. Many livestreamed the funeral procession on their phones, while others held candles and laid flowers at a memorial site. A video shows a man playing the tune “Glory to Hong Kong” on his harmonica, a protest anthem created during the depths of the pro-democracy and anti-government protests that rocked the city in 2019. More than 2,500 people lined up to give the condolences to Queen Elizabeth II in front of the British consulate in Hong Kong on September 12, 2022. The moving ballad, which includes lyrics such as “For Hong Kong, let freedom reign”, became an anthem of the pro-democracy movement and its interpretations have been viewed millions of times on YouTube. At Tuesday’s vigil, the crowd waved iPhone flashlights in the dark and sang to the beat of harmonica, with some starting a chant that has also become synonymous with the protests: “Hong Kong, add oil.” Photos then show police officers arriving and escorting the man to his van. When asked by CNN about the harmonica player, police responded that a 43-year-old man surnamed Pang had been arrested that night around 9:30 pm. He was suspected of committing acts of sedition, and was detained for questioning, then released on bail pending investigation, police said. He is due to report back to the police at the end of November. Hong Kong’s sedition law is part of the 1938 Crimes Ordinance, once used by the colonial government to persecute pro-Chinese groups and publications, especially after the Chinese Communist Party came to power and during anti-government protests in Hong Kong. 1967. Originally defined sedition as speech that provoked “hatred or contempt” against the queen, her heirs, or the Hong Kong government. The law had been dormant for decades until it was revived in 2020, along with Beijing’s introduction of a sweeping national security law, targeting secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist activities. A conviction under the sedition law carries a maximum sentence of 2 years. The revival of the law – and its use as part of a broader crackdown by authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing – has drawn criticism from activists and humanitarian organizations around the world.

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