Hong Kong police have arrested a man who played the harmonica at a vigil for the Queen on suspicion of sedition.

Videos posted on social media show hundreds of people gathering outside the city’s British Consulate on Monday night to commemorate the Queen, as her funeral was held in London – an event of political significance in the former British colony, where the King mourned. It became a subtle form of protest.

Many broadcast the funeral procession live on their phones, while others carried candles and laid flowers at one of the memorial sites.

One of the videos shows a man playing his harmonica to the tune of “Glory to Hong Kong,” a protest anthem created during the depths of the pro-democracy and anti-government protests that rocked the city in 2019.
The sensational poem, which includes lyrics such as “For Hong Kong, may freedom reign,” became an anthem for the pro-democracy movement and its performances have been viewed millions of times on YouTube.

At the vigil on Tuesday, crowds waved iPhone flashlights in the dark and sang along with the harmonica, and some began a hymn that has become synonymous with protests: “Hong Kong, add oil.”

The photos then show police officers arriving and escorting the man into their truck.

When CNN asked the police about the harmonica player, they replied that a 43-year-old man named Pang had been arrested that night around 9:30 p.m., suspected of sedition, and taken into custody – then released on bail pending investigation. , the police said.

He will be asked to report to the police in late November.

Hong Kong’s Sedition Act is part of the 1938 Crimes Act, which the colonial government once used to target pro-China groups and publications – particularly after the Chinese Communist Party came to power, and during anti-government protests in 1967.

Sedition was originally defined as a speech inducing “hate or contempt” for the Queen, her heirs, or the Hong Kong government.

The law remained unused for decades until it was revived in 2020 — along with Beijing’s passing a comprehensive national security law targeting separatism, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces and terrorist activities.

The penalty for conviction under the sedition law is a maximum of two years.

The law’s revival – and its use amid a broader crackdown by Hong Kong and Beijing authorities – has drawn criticism from activists and humanitarian organizations around the world.

Xi Jinping crushed Hong Kong's opposition.  He now claims that delivery to China represents

In July, the UN Human Rights Committee urged Hong Kong to repeal the sedition law, saying it was concerned it could limit citizens’ “legitimate right to freedom of expression”.

The Hong Kong government has repeatedly denied that the Sedition Act or the National Security Act – which has been used to arrest activists, journalists, protesters and former elected lawmakers – poses any threat to people’s liberties.

In response to the United Nations, she said that the sedition law “does not aim to silence the expression of any opinion is a real criticism of the government based on objective facts,” adding that the national security law “restored stability and security quickly and effectively.” after the 2019 protests.

mourning protest

The crackdown saw a steady erosion of civil liberties in what was once a free city with an independent press and a rich protest culture.

Most pro-democracy groups were dissolved, their leaders were imprisoned or forced into exile, and all mass demonstrations were banned.

Without the traditional ways of protesting – people have now been arrested for social media posts and even for publishing children’s books deemed seditious – the Queen’s death this month has emerged as an unexpected opportunity for dissent.
The colonial flag of Hong Kong and portraits of Queen Elizabeth are placed outside the British Consulate in Hong Kong on September 12.

In celebration of the monarchy and its symbols, some Hong Kong residents see an opportunity to dig into the veils of both the Chinese Communist Party, which has made no secret of its eagerness to forget Hong Kong residents of the era, and local authorities who have recently introduced textbooks claiming that the city was never a colony in the first place.

A retiree named Wing, who spoke to CNN outside the consulate on Monday but declined to reveal his full name, said it was “amazing” to be part of a rally again.

said Wing, who was born in the 1960s.

In Hong Kong, the Queen's mourning has another goal: to challenge China

The displays of affection are also a reminder of the city’s pro-democracy protests, during which protesters adopted the colonial flag as a sign of resistance to Chinese one-party rule.

However, other critics have pointed out that even under British rule, Hong Kong residents did not have universal suffrage. Many felt that London neglected its duty by not granting British citizenship to Hong Kong residents at the time of handover, instead offering most of them a limited passport that did not give them the right to live and work in Britain.

Since the introduction of the National Security Act, Britain has created what it calls a pathway to citizenship via a new type of visa.

CNN’s Kathleen Magramo and Simon McCarthy contributed to this report.

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