22 May 2020: Street artist Oliver Ma was released after being arrested by the authorities in Hong Kong a day earlier, following the complaints about his performance during which he sang, among others, Glory to Hong Kong, an anthem of the pro-democracy movement, reported Hong Kon Free Press.
Authorities also seized Ma’s musical equipment before he was released on bail of 500 Yuan (around 65 Euros).
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Previously, on 27 July 2020, Ma was briefly detained on charges of “noise pollution caused by musical instrument” and “noise pollution caused by loudspeakers” during his street performance. On 23 February 2021, the Eastern District Court ruled that Ma was not guilty of the charges.
Ma was arrested again on 8 August 2020 for allegedly “obstructing police officers” and “possessing an offensive weapon”. The weapon in questions was a pair of toy handcuffs, symbolising Ma’s arrest in July 2020. The charges were later dropped.
The artist assumed that he is being targeted because he became known for signing Glory to Hong Kong.
“[…] Before the National Security Law, I would sing that song because everybody would suggest it, and it’s just the sound that everybody wanted to hear,” Oliver Ma told Freemuse.
Ma is hesitant to perform Glory to Hong Kong because of the National Security Law. The law was passed on 30 June 2020 and is dangerous in its vague and broad composition. According to Amnesty International, almost anything could be presumed a “threat to national security” under this law, and it can apply to everyone globally.
“[The National Security Law] affects you if you are openly pro-democracy,” Ma told Freemuse.
On 21 October 2020, Ma announced that he is retiring from street performing due to the ongoing harassment from authorities and fear of future consequences he might endure because of his performances.
“Since then, I’ve just really been trying to focus on how I can transfer my music from the streets to online. Because if I can’t see people face-to-face and in-person, I should still be able to do something about it,” Ma told Freemuse.
Oliver Ma is an artist, singer, and busker. He was a full-time street performer from 2017 up to 2019 when he started to be harassed by the authorities.