A Hong Kong judge on Friday rejected a local government request for the ban pro-democracy song “Glory to Hong Kong” which sprung up during the huge 2019 protests in the city-territory.
“I cannot be satisfied that it is fair and proper to grant this restraining order,” Judge Anthony Chan said in his judgment. “This request is therefore dismissed.”
A ban that would raise “serious questions of freedom of expression”
The Hong Kong executive had filed in June for an injunction to ban the song — an anonymous creation — from broadcasting or performing “with the intention of inciting others to secession or with seditious intent”.
The executive said it decided to take legal action after the chant was repeatedly played instead of the Chinese national anthem at overseas sporting events. But Judge Chan said banning “Glory to Hong Kong” would raise serious free speech issues.
“I believe that infringing on freedom of expression in this matter, particularly to innocent third parties, constitutes what public law regards as ‘chilling effects’,” he wrote in his judgment.
“While fully accepting that no deterrent effect is sought by the injunction, it is the court’s duty to bear in mind that there is a range of people in Hong Kong”, with varying degrees of knowledge of such an injunction, he explains.
A song that has become an anthem of the city’s pro-democracy movement
Became an anthem of the city’s pro-democracy movement, “Glory to Hong Kong” was written and popularized during the huge and at times violent pro-democracy protests of 2019 that saw millions take to the streets demanding freedoms. policies.
Beijing imposed a draconian national security law in 2020 to end the movement. It is now illegal to sing it or play the melody of “Glory to Hong Kong”, under a national security law imposed to crush such protests. The musicians who performed it in public were prosecuted by the authorities.
Li Jiexin, 69, is currently on trial for “unlicensed performance” after performing “Glory to Hong Kong” with an erhu, a two-stringed Chinese instrument, across the city in 2021 and 2022. Mid-June, the song was removed from streaming platforms including iTunes and Spotify after the government’s legal action.