Hong Kong Outlaws the Protest Song Following a Legal Victory

The song was widely adopted by pro-democracy protesters in 2019

The official ban of a protest song, which pro-democracy demonstrators had previously used as a rallying cry, has been accepted by Hong Kong’s appellate court.

The government had asked for Glory to Hong Kong to be prohibited, but the lower court had denied it last year.

Then, a judge declared that a prohibition would have “chilling effects” on the right to free expression.

However, the court reversed its earlier decision in favour of the government on Wednesday, which is sure to increase worries about the city’s continued erosion of freedoms.

The song would be a national security danger if it were “broadcast, performed, printed, published, sold, offered for sale, distributed, disseminated, displaying or reproducing,” according to the Court of Appeal.

Additionally, the ruling stated that “an immediate need to stop the criminal acts” existed, while it did not name the specific crimes to which it was alluding.

The song’s prohibition was described as a “necessary measure by (Hong Kong) to fulfil its responsibility of safeguarding national security” by a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry on Wednesday.

Judge Anthony Chan of Hong Kong stated, “I believe that the intrusion to freedom of expression here, especially to innocent third parties, is what is referred to in public law,” after the government’s request to have the song taken down from the internet was denied in 2023.

The song’s lyrics, which were written in Cantonese during pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019 and taken up by demonstrators, contain the phrase “Revolution of our times.” May humanity live in freedom and pride for all eternity. Honour be to you, Hong Kong.”

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A large number of Hong Kong residents played it to express support for their region’s status as a separate entity from China.

People in Hong Kong were already subject to penalties for playing the song under national security rules, even though the new ban will explicitly codify such penalties.

A harmonica player was detained in 2022 for performing the song in front of the British consulate in Hong Kong in remembrance of Queen Elizabeth II.

Since 2020, the song has been prohibited in schools.

Additionally, authorities had petitioned internet behemoths like Google to take the protest song down from their video platforms and search results, but the sites had refused to comply.

Authorities have been enraged by the song’s occasional incorrect use as the city’s anthem at formal events like international athletic tournaments.

The government’s attempts to censor the song were denounced by rights groups as a further violation of the civil and political rights of Hong Kong residents. Since Beijing enacted a contentious national security law in 2019 in reaction to pro-democracy demonstrations, these have drastically decreased.

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