The pro-democracy song that could soon be banned from even being whistled in Hong Kong

ITV News' Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reports from Hong Kong, where authorities have banned a song called Glory to Hong Kong

Court is where the fight for freedom plays out in Hong Kong these days.

The latest case brought to the High Court by the government on Friday was not against an individual, it was seeking to ban a pro-democracy song.

Glory to Hong Kong was written during the 2019 protests and it contains the lyrics “liberate Hong Kong” in a “revolution of our times” - expressions already considered subversive under the national security law.

The video for the song features performers wearing the black clothing and yellow helmets which became the uniform of young protesters in 2019.

Glory to Hong Kong was written during the 2019 protests. Credit: ITV News

It became so popular it would come up in online searches as the official anthem of Hong Kong, instead of what should be China’s March of the Volunteers.

That has led to it being mistakenly played at several international sports events.

An investigation was launched in November after it was played at a Rugby 7’s tournament in South Korea.

The authorities have already banned the song in schools and used British colonial sedition laws to arrest those playing it in public, but now they are seeking to make it wholly illegal.

The injunction would outlaw the music, the lyrics, and any adaptations, even whistling the tune could get someone in trouble.

Technology giants like Google and Meta are watching the case closely as they could face pressure to remove the song from their platforms.

Hong Kong Barrister Elson Tong said the government has made criminal offences out of what would previously be in a 'grey area'. Credit: ITV News

The government claims to song promotes the social unrest of 2019 and supports an "independence" movement.

Although the demonstrations were joined by some pro-independence activists, it was not one of the movement’s key demands.

On Thursday, a man was sentenced to three months for insulting the Chinese National anthem.

He posted a video online which dubbed over the March of the Volunteers, replacing it with Glory to Hong Kong.

He had edited a medal ceremony where a Hong Kong athlete won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

He became the first person to be tried under the national anthem law, which was brought in at the same time as the National Security Law in June 2020.

The new laws have led to an exodus of hundreds of thousands of people - many were leading figures in the protests, but a majority were just worried about the continued erosion of civil liberties.

Hundreds more will leave this summer, many of them teachers, or parents who want to get their children away from classrooms where the Communist Party has imposed its ideology, liberal studies have been replaced with lessons on the Chinese constitution, and a national security curriculum is being taught to children from the age of six.

Earlier this month, the Hong Kong government also placed one million Hong Kong dollar bounties on the heads of eight pro-democracy figures in exile.

The chief executive John Lee described them as “street rats” who would be hunted down, and vowed to use every means necessary to bring them to justice.

Former Hong Kong lawmaker Emily Lau said that the people of Hong Kong have a 'dream' that they will one day 'be free.' Credit: ITV News

The family members of three of those with a bounty on their heads have been taken in for questioning by police in Hong Kong.

Most of the high-profile activists or democrats who left were forced to sever ties with the relatives and friends they left behind, but now they are being pressured to turn on their loved ones and help lure them back to face arrest.

After one day of evidence, the judge will make his ruling on Glory to Hong Kong next Friday.

The government is likely to get the song banned, adding music to the means of expression it has successfully silenced.

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