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Hong Kong police keep lid on Tiananmen Square vigils

Hong Kong police keep lid on Tiananmen Square vigils


Police in Hong Kong swarmed over the city’s Victoria Park Saturday to crack down on a planned vigil celebrating the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre.

The event was once held annually on June 4, and had been sponsored by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements.

But Beijing has been banned the event for the past three years as China, using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext for outlawing large public gatherings.

The central government said Friday that parts of the park would be closed as it may be used for “illegal activities.” 

Cops in protective masks fanned out across the 47-acre oasis to ensure that order was kept and that no demonstrations were staged.

Hong Kong — ruled by the United Kingdom from 1841 to 1997 — has historically enjoyed greater liberties than the rest of mainland China.

But in 2019, China imposed a new national security law on the island in response to widespread pro-democracy protests, and began a crackdown on free expression.

Police officers prevented people from entering Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2022.
AP Photo/Kin Cheung
Beijing claimed the vigil is outlawed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beijing claimed the vigil is outlawed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
AP Photo/Kin Cheung

“I am disappointed because although no one organized any commemoration event, the authorities are already on high alert,” said resident Donald Tam.

But others defied the regime.

“Today, this is to commemorate June 4th. Every year I have to do it,” said Man Yuen, clad in a black T-shirt bearing the words “the people will not forget” and carrying an unlit candle.

China is famously sensitive about the massacre, which saw their own soldiers mow down thousands of Chinese citizens just outside the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Officers searching a woman's bag near Victoria Park.
Officers searching a woman’s bag near Victoria Park.
AP

The event has been totally scrubbed from official histories and wiped out of public consciousness in most of the country.

The anniversary is routinely marked by pro-democracy activists and western leaders around the world every year.

“33 years have passed since the world watched brave demonstrators and bystanders peacefully demand democracy in Tiananmen Square. Despite the removal of memorials and attempts to erase history, we honor their memory by promoting respect for human rights wherever threatened,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted Friday.

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