Government seeks to ban protest song ‘Glory to Hong Kong’, including from the Internet – Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Glory to Hong Kong

Government seeks legal injunction and interim injunction to ban wrongdoing related to 2019 protest song Glory to Hong Kong, whose lyrics contain a slogan that has been considered a call for secession. It comes nearly three years after authorities were unable to give a clear answer about its legality, although it has already been banned in schools.

According to a Tuesday press release, a warrant from the Justice Department — filed Monday — seeks to prohibit “the broadcast, execution, printing, publication, sale, offering for sale, distribution, dissemination, display or reproduction in any way (including on the Internet and/or in any medium accessible online and/or in any platform or medium based on the Internet) the Song”. Those who commit such acts will be criminally liable if they are found to have intended to commit sedition or secession.

Glory to Hong Kong
Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Citing the Beijing-imposed national security law, sedition law, and national anthem law, the legal conditions would also ban the melody, lyrics, and any adaptation of the song. Pro-Beijing lawmaker Junius Ho is among those known to have parodied the song.

The move comes nearly a week after a busker, known for his public renditions of Glory to Hong Kong he was acquitted of the charges by a court amid doubts about police testimony. Last Friday, a Hong Kong court also updated the verdict of the first trial relating to insulting the Chinese national anthem, after a magistrate clarified doubts about the expertise of a police sergeant.

The 2019 protest song’s lyrics and melody were also reportedly banned, with “broadcasting, performing, printing, publishing, selling” or parodies likely attracting criminal charges.

The Justice Department said the song “is likely to be mistaken for the national anthem” and that its existence could suggest the city has its own anthem or could encourage others to commit seditious acts. The injunctions would protect the national anthem from insults, he added.

He also pointed out the texts which are prohibited by the security law. The phrase Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times, referred to in the song, has connotations of independence for Hong Kong, or separating the city from China, altering its legal status or subverting state power, the government said.

Department of Justice
Hong Kong Department of Justice. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

The song, and slogan coined in 2016 by former localist leader Edward Leung, MP Baggio Leung and a former Youngspiration member, was popularized during the city’s month of pro-democracy protests and unrest in 2019.

Those who help others to commit a crime related to singing are also criminally liable, if the injunctions are granted.

The department said the injunctions would complement existing laws: “The Hong Kong SAR government respects and values ​​the rights and freedoms protected by the Basic Law (including freedom of speech), but freedom of speech is not absolute.”

When asked how the injunctions could be applied to hosted or foreign-owned websites and social media sites and whether the rules would be retrospective or enforced against media outlets, the Justice Department sent a link to its original press release. Under pressure, a spokesperson said, “As legal proceedings are ongoing, the Justice Department will not comment further.”

the anthem of China, March of the Volunteersis officially the national anthem of Hong Kong.

Internet censorship?

With multiple copies of the song being hosted on websites like YouTube and social media platforms – in various forms and languages ​​- it’s unclear whether the move would herald the advent of internet censorship in the city. It is also unclear how the rules would be applied internationally to websites hosted overseas or whether the injunctions would be retroactive.

Monday’s deed contained 32 links to YouTube videos related to the song.

Last year, Google declined to act on its search results when searches for “Hong Kong’s national anthem” led to the Wikipedia page for the protest song. The security chief said the company’s inaction “hurt the feelings of the people of Hong Kong”, though it was only in April that the government updated its page with details of the official anthem. The page jumped to the top of the search results.

Youtube videos

The US tech firm vowed to refuse data requests made under the security law and left China amid growing internet censorship in 2010.

HKFP reached out to Meta, Google and Twitter for comment. Twitter answered questions with a “poop” emoji.

Hymn exchanges

The months-long saga of the anthem began last November when the protest song was heard during a Rugby Sevens match in South Korea after an intern downloaded it from the internet.

glory to the hong kong anthem
Susanna Lin at the 2022 Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship in Dubai on Friday, December 11, 2022. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

Similar exchanges have occurred at international sports finals, including a weightlifting championship awards ceremony in Dubai and most recently at a February ice hockey match in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, bypassing the local legislature, following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It has criminalized subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces, and terrorist acts, which have been broadly defined to include the disruption of transportation and other infrastructure. The move has given the police new powers, alarming Democrats, civil society groups and business partners, as the laws have been widely used to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, authorities say it has brought stability and peace back to the city.

Hong Kong’s national anthem law, which criminalizes insults a March of the Volunteerswas enacted on June 4, 2020: Violators face fines of up to HK$50,000 or three years in prison.

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