Defying Oppression: Meet Chow Hang Tung, Hong Kong’s Modern Antigone Fighting for Freedom

Hong Kong – In a world where freedoms are increasingly threatened, one woman stands as a symbol of defiance. Meet Chow Hang Tung, the Antigone of Hong Kong. While many may not be familiar with her name, her story is one of courage and resistance.

Every year, Hong Kong held a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre. It was a proud tradition, a symbol of Hong Kong’s commitment to remembering a dark chapter in history. However, in 2020, the passing of the national security law changed everything. The law aimed to stifle dissent and restrict freedoms of speech and assembly, effectively silencing any mention of Tiananmen Square.

Chow Hang Tung, the vice chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, refused to let the memory of Tiananmen fade away. In the absence of the alliance’s leaders, she took on the responsibility of maintaining the vigil. Despite the denial of permits to gather, she posted on Facebook that she would continue the tradition by lighting a candle in a public space. Her act of defiance led to her arrest.

Chow’s arrest sent shockwaves through the community. Charged with promoting an “unauthorized assembly,” she was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison. But even while in jail, Chow remained steadfast. She refused to plead guilty, insisting that her words were sacred and inviolable. Her unwavering commitment to her principles inspired many.

Chow’s resilience and determination can be compared to the Greek mythological character, Antigone. Just like Antigone, Chow fights for what she believes in, fully aware of the odds stacked against her. While most of us may not possess the same kind of unwavering courage, Chow’s story serves as a reminder of the power of standing up for what is right.

But in a world that often demands conformity, it is also important to acknowledge those like Ismene, Antigone’s sister. Ismene represents the ordinary, the survival instinct in the face of adversity. She understands the dangers of constantly meddling and values self-preservation. Ismene may not be heroic, but she embodies the experiences of many who fear the consequences of speaking out.

Chow’s story resonates with individuals who have themselves faced oppressive governments. It elicits the understanding that staying true to one’s principles is not easy. As Czech writer Vaclav Havel once said, “Each person is capable, to a greater or lesser degree, of coming to terms with living within the lie.” Many, like Ismene, choose to live within the lie, making compromises to ensure their own survival.

The struggle for freedom and the fight against oppressive regimes is a universal one. While Chow’s story is specific to Hong Kong, it serves as a reminder for all of us to reflect on the choices we make to preserve our humanity. And in the face of adversity, whether we identify with Antigone or Ismene, we must strive to keep the flame of justice alive.