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A Hong Konger who played the harmonica to a crowd outside the British Consulate during Elizabeth II’s funeral has been arrested for sedition, police and local media reported.
Crowds of Hong Kongers lined up to pay their respects to Britain’s late monarch this week, with some expressing nostalgia for the city’s colonial past at a time when Beijing is trying to stamp out discontent.
On Monday evening, as the British government held the funeral, hundreds gathered outside the embassy, sharing live streams on phones, as well as laying candles and flowers.
At one point, a man began playing songs on a harmonica, an AFP reporter at the scene said, including the British national anthem and Glory to Hong Kong, a song popular during massive, sometimes violent pro-democracy protests in 2019.
Just after 8 p.m., people outside BCG chanted “Hongkongers add oil” and sang “Glory to Hong Kong” after a man started playing the harmonica on the sidewalk across from the embassy building. pic.twitter.com/ufQ1DHuyGz
— Xinqi Su 蘇昕琪 (@XinqiSu) September 19, 2022
Mourners outside the embassy applauded the show and flashed their phone lights, many later chanting “Hong Kongers add oil” and singing the praises of Hong Kong.
Local reporters later photographed the harmonica player being questioned and detained by police.
On Tuesday, a 43-year-old man surnamed Pang was arrested outside the embassy for “seditious acts”, police said. A police source confirmed to AFP that the man arrested was a harmonica player.
After the pro-democracy protests of 2019, China used a national security law and sedition charges to crack down on dissent in Hong Kong.
The latter is a colonial-era law that fell into obscurity for decades until lawyers reintroduced it after protests.
The song Glory to Hong Kong contains the popular protest slogan “Free Hong Kong, the revolution of our time”, which has been declared a threat to national security by the courts.
Earlier this year, a 60-year-old man was charged with performing without a license at a bus station while playing music on his erhu, a Chinese two-stringed instrument.
Oliver Ma is a Filipino-Hong Kong busker who was arrested three times in 2020 and 2021 when he sang an English version of a protest song on the streets of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong was a British colony for more than 150 years and when the financial center returned to China in 1997, the past is etched into its landscape, from street names and the ubiquity of English to the common law system.
Within a week of the Queen’s death, more than 13,000 people signed a book of condolence at the British Consulate in the city.
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