On June 4, 32 years ago, the Tiananmen Square Massacre launched by the Communist Party of China (CCP) in Beijing shocked the whole world. Ever since, the communist regime has blocked all efforts to commemorate the incident, rendering the people’s voices against such tyranny almost extinct in mainland China.
Hong Kong, once the only free city in China, has not stopped commemorating the massacre in a peaceful manner for more than 30 years. After the government banned the annual candlelight vigil last year using the pandemic as a pretext, over 3,000 police officers have been deployed this year and advocates were arrested. However, that did not stop the people of Hong Kong from preserving the truth in their own way.
Memorial activities blocked by the government
Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that on June 4 this year, authorities mobilized thousands of police officers to set up roadblocks to check vehicles in the main roads and cross-harbor tunnels.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (the “Alliance”) has been organizing candlelight vigils in Victoria Park for 30 consecutive years. In 2020, the Hong Kong government for the first time banned people from entering the park to participate in the vigil on the grounds of the pandemic, but a large number of people ignored the ban and joined in the protests.
This year, however, Victoria Park was empty for the first time in 32 years due to the heavy police lockdown.
The Alliance earlier applied to hold a “Remember June 4 Rally” on May 30 and a candlelight vigil in Victoria Park on June 4, but were refused by the police. The Appeal Board of Public Meetings and Processions rejected the Alliance’s appeal on May 29, citing the pandemic and the restriction on gathering.
Considering the safety of participants, the Alliance then announced that it would cancel the event, but call on the public to mourn in their own ways and in a safe and peaceful manner.
The June 4th Museum, which was closed due to continuous harassment and vandalism, was reopened by the Alliance after the vigil was rejected. However, three days later, the Hong Kong government sent officers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department that accused the museum of violating the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance.
The Alliance decided on June 2 to temporarily close the Museum until further notice.
“We must carefully review the situation and seek legal advice,” Secretary of the Alliance, Richard Tsoi, told reporters. “We must consider the safety of the cultural artifacts in the museum, as well as the safety of staff, volunteers, and participants,” he said.
“Therefore we will temporarily close the June 4th Memorial Hall, seek legal advice, and then see how to proceed from there.”
The Alliance said that more than 550 people visited the museum in the three days it was open.
Tsoi, who was sentenced to imprisonment for participating in last year’s October 1st Protest, said that the Alliance is facing endless pressure from the government and legal risks, which are getting more and more severe. He added, “the department is not reasonable in enforcing the law.”
Despite a difficult political situation, the Alliance hopes that Hong Kong people will not give up commemorating the massacre and will find their own ways to express themselves.
Chiu Yan Loy, a member of the Standing Committee of the Alliance, witnessed the police blockade of Victoria Park on June 4. He told the Hong Kong media that the CCP blockades Tiananmen Square on June 4 to prevent people from mourning, trying to make people forget and assume nothing happened there 32 years ago.
“The Hong Kong police have blocked the Victoria Park too, which is an unprecedented move to clamp down on mourning for the massacre, trying to turn Victoria Park into another Tiananmen Square,” said Chiu.
Advocates arrested for online speech and protesting alone
Apple Daily reported that on June 4, Vice Chairman of the Alliance, Tonyee Chow Hang-tung, was arrested by Hong Kong police and charged with “publicizing or announcing an unlawful assembly,” which also prevented her from going to Commercial Radio Hong Kong for an interview as planned.
It is reported that the police arrested her because of a message she posted on Facebook, which said: “Light up everywhere, turn on the cell phone lights, or light the real candles, or the electronic candles, on June 4th at 8:00 p.m. Let’s be the lighters.”
On May 30, the originally designated day of the June 4 rally, Hong Kong Police Force not only heavily fortified the scheduled starting point of the rally but also arrested Alexandra Wong Fung Yiu, a 64-year-old holding the slogan “32, June 4th, Lament for Tiananmen” and waving a British flag and a yellow umbrella.
The police first surrounded her and asked her to leave. She then decided to march alone to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, but soon 30 police officers and plainclothes surrounded her and arrested her for “unlawful assembly.”
However, according to Section 18 of the Public Order Ordinance, at least three people must be involved to constitute an “unlawful assembly.” The maximum penalty if convicted of “unlawful assembly” is five years imprisonment.
The Citizen News later quoted sources as saying that Wong had not been charged, but the police said they would reserve the right to prosecute her.
In a radio interview with the University of Hong Kong Law School’s chief lecturer, Mr. Cheung Tat-ming, said the lone procession clearly did not constitute a crime of either “unauthorized assembly” or “unlawful assembly.” He worried that law enforcement officers are using their own knowledge of the law to make arrests, and that will change Hong Kong’s legal values and legal culture, marking a fundamental change in the rule of law in the city.
“At present, the Hong Kong government does not respect a person’s freedom of peaceful assembly. It’s more like ‘When you do something that I am not satisfied with, I will seek legal provisions on whether you can be arrested or charged,’” Cheung said.
Hong Kong people have their ways
In recent years, the Hong Kong government has become more and more inclined to Beijing, and after the CCP’s override of Hong Kong’s legislative system to enact the National Security Law last year, Hong Kong’s government has been doing more and more to curry favor with the mainland regime.
In the face of strong repression, the people of Hong Kong are still trying to find ways to commemorate the Tiananmen Massacre.
On June 4 of this year, people dressed in black, stood with candles in their hands in Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and other busy streets. Civil society organizations volunteered to distribute candles in many communities. At least seven Catholic churches have set up “memorial masses” with live webcasts.
Some people climbed the Lion Rock, the symbol of the spirit of Hong Kong, and Tai Mo Shan, the highest mountain in Hong Kong, to display slogans about not forgetting June 4 and pursuing democracy in Hong Kong.
The spokesperson of Tiananmen Mothers, a group of survivors and family members of the Massacre, said in an interview with The Stand News on June 3 that Hong Kong people have made an indelible contribution in condemning the Chinese government for its responsibility in the tragedy. She said that every year since the 1990s she has been moved by the candlelight vigil in Victoria Park.
The spokesperson said the Chinese Communist Party is tightening its grip on Hong Kong, but she believes the people of Hong Kong will make their own judgments, and she will accept and will be moved by whatever way to commemorate June 4 in the future.
“It is actually everyone’s wish that in their own country, we do not want to see such killings again,” she said.
Ming Pao Daily also published an article by Tonyee Chow, who was arrested recently, writing, “When June 4 has become a sensitive word and more and more people accept that no one died on June 4 32 years ago, it is Hong Kong people’s insistence on the truth that has preserved a space on Chinese soil where the truth can be told. And Hong Kong people, together with domestic pro-democracy activists, have held onto the truth and broken the lies of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Chow continued, “The police are standing by and the regime is trying to extinguish the candlelight by all means, which highlights the fear and cowardice of the authorities…The candlelight vigil of June 4 by Hong Kong people year after year has ignited the hope of the front-line protesters in China, letting them know that they are not alone and giving some comfort to the families of the dead, at the same time, letting the Communist Party know that there is a place where people will always stand firm on the truth of Tiananmen Massacre.”