After posting an undisclosed sum for bail, the British band This Town Needs Guns, or TTNG, and the American musician Henry Kohen, aka Mylets, were released from custody last night. Hong Kong immigration officials raided the indie nightclub Hidden Agenda the evening of Sunday, May 7, and arrested the musicians, reports Adam Wright of the South China Morning Post. The club was invaded by more than ten immigration and fifteen police officers—carrying riot shields and accompanied by dogs—because the musicians were suspected of breaching the conditions of their stay by performing without work visas. Mylets and TTGN are allowed to leave Hong Kong but must report back to immigration authorities on June 5. The club’s owner, Hui Chung-wo, along with one of his employees and an audience member, were also arrested but released yesterday. People working in Hong Kong illegally can be imprisoned for up to two years and fined about $6,400 if convicted. Employers could get up to three years in jail and fined up to nearly $50,000
In a statement on their Facebook page, TTNG said, “We have learnt that it is extremely difficult for musicians to thrive in Hong Kong. It requires an incredible amount of strength and passion to persevere. Hong Kong as we know, as an international city with freedom and diversity, should give greater room for creative works and performance to flourish.”
This is not the first time Hidden Agenda has been raided. Police and members of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department attacked the club in March, accusing the owner of hosting live music shows without an entertainment license. The Lands Department will not give the club a license, claiming that operating a live music venue from an industrial building goes against the conditions of Hidden Agenda’s lease.