Hong Kong authorities have banned a vigil from commemorating the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen protest. Hundreds of demonstrators were killed by the army on June 4 that year when the student protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square were crushed.
The police, who announced the ban, cite the corona pandemic as the reason. However, criticism of the communist regime in Beijing has become increasingly difficult in Hong Kong since the new security law came into effect about a year ago.
It is the second time in 32 years that the vigil has been cancelled. The police announced on Thursday that there were 7,000 people on the leg. Nearly half of them have to keep order in Victoria Park, where the commemoration took place in recent years. This usually happened with guest speakers, music, singing and a vigil in silence. Participants showed their solidarity with the victims by holding a lighted candle while sitting on the floor.
Last month, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong was sentenced to an additional 10 months in prison for rallying for his participation in last year’s commemoration, which saw thousands of others defy authorities. Wong was already serving a prison sentence for his role in anti-government protests in Beijing last year. Since China introduced the controversial security law for Hong Kong in June last year, repression against dissidents in the former British crown colony has intensified. Almost the entire opposition is now behind bars or has gone into exile.
The organization behind the vigil already decided on Wednesday to close a museum exhibition about the Tianan massacre after a warning from the authorities. “While it will not be possible to show the world a beautiful vigil this year, we can still believe and look forward to remembering together again in the future,” said the head of the organization.
On June 4, 1989, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army carried out a massacre of peaceful protesters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. At least several hundred people were killed and, by some estimates, even thousands. The Tiananmen protests started as student protests for reforms and more civil rights and swelled sharply in a few weeks until the authorities decided to crush the demonstrations with brute force.