With a large deployment, the police in Hong Kong stopped any public commemoration of the Tiananmen massacre on Saturday. Scores of people were stopped and searched. Several people were arrested because they wanted to commemorate the bloodbath in Beijing 33 years ago, despite the ban on public vigils.
On June 4, 1989, the Chinese army crushed student protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. After weeks of peaceful protests demanding political change and measures against state corruption, soldiers and tanks used violence against the demonstrators. It is still unclear how many people were killed. Amnesty International speaks of several hundred to several thousand victims. Military action is a political taboo subject in China. The Chinese leadership does not allow public discussion or commemoration of the anniversary.
AFP journalists saw at least six people being taken away by police. Among them was democracy activist Yu Wai Pan of the League of Social Democrats (LSD) party, who has been targeted by the authorities. He had performed with two other LSD members with masks over their mouths that had crosses on them.
For the third time in a row, Hong Kong authorities have canceled the memorial service for the victims of the massacre on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Square). As in the previous two years, a candlelight vigil on the anniversary was prohibited. Police officers patrolled and cordoned off Hong Kong’s Victoria Park.
Many people were stopped and searched by officers. Among other things, people who wore black clothing were stopped and searched. A man was stopped for having a toy tank with him.
Dozens of people scattered around Victoria Park turned on their smartphone flashlights – prompted by police bullhorns to turn them off. Officials had also previously prohibited the lighting of LED candles. A woman told AFP that she had lit a candle at home and placed it on her windowsill with a replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue – originally located in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
“For me and many Hong Kongers of my generation, June 4th was the moment of political awakening,” said the 49-year-old PR woman, who has volunteered at vigils in the past. A young woman told AFP on Saturday: “We can’t cause a big stir,” but there are still small gestures “with which we can show others that they are not alone.”
For a long time, the special administrative region was the only place in China where the victims of the Tiananmen massacre could be commemorated. Tens of thousands of people usually took part in the big candle service in Victoria Park. In the summer of 2020, however, Beijing introduced a harsh security law for Hong Kong – since then the vigil has not been allowed either.