Members of British and U.S. Rock Band Arrested for Visa Offences in HK

Hong Kong police arrested seven people during a raid on Hidden Agenda, an indie music live house, on May 7.
 (Image:  Hidden Agenda  via Facebook )
Hong Kong police arrested seven people during a raid on Hidden Agenda, an indie music live house, on May 7. (Image: Hidden Agenda via Facebook )

An underground indie music house called Hidden Agenda was raided by undercover immigration officers and police in Hong Kong on May 7. Seven people were arrested during the crackdown in the factory building, which is located in the Kwuntong district, including Hidden Agenda’s founder Hui Chung-woo and members of British band This Town Needs Gun and U.S. rock band Mylets over alleged visa offences.

While Hong Kong gives visa-free entry to citizens of the majority of countries in the world, the city’s law does require visitors who come to participate in conferences, seminars, exhibitions, or performances to apply for a work visa.

However, as an international city that encourages business travelers to participate in conferences and exhibitions, the law has seldom been applied to prosecute those who come on a short business trip without a work visa.

In that context, many Hong Kongers viewed the crackdown against Hidden Agenda as selective. Below is video showing the police raid on May 7:

The three overseas performers have been released on bail and have to report back to Hong Kong police in one month. Four locals have been charged with obstructing law enforcement, and Hui Chung-woo, Hidden Agenda’s founder, has been charged with four other counts related to hiring overseas workers without a work permit.

The bands This Town Needs Gun and Mylets responded on Facebook to their arrest:

Hidden Agenda has been a target of police harassment for many years because of Hong Kong’s contradictory policies regarding the restoration of industrial buildings. Since 2010, the government has started encouraging the “revitalization” of these spaces, but it has not amended the law to allow cultural activities in them.

Therefore, many cultural groups are conducting workshops, exhibitions, and performances in legally grey areas. In a statement, Hidden Agenda (HA) explained how local laws have eliminated its survival space:

Hidden Agenda is not the only cultural group making use of industrial spaces, so the implication of the crackdown is worrying, musician Simone Fassan argued on Facebook:

As the crackdown involves the arrest of U.K. and U.S. performers, the international indie music sector has also voiced their support for Hidden Agenda. Oliver, a Taiwanese music festival curator, pointed out:

Europe-based indie band Arm and Sleepers also expressed solidarity with Hidden Agenda on Facebook:

This article by Oiwan Lam originally appeared on Global Voices.

[Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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