Anniversary of Tiananmen Massacre: Hong Kong bans vigil commemorating June 4 crackdown

A candlelight vigil, held in Hong Kong's Victoria Park on Tuesday, remembered the victims of the 1989 massacre in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

On June 4, 1989, Chinese troops cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. An official death toll has never been released, but rights groups estimate hundreds, if not thousands, were killed.

Hong Kong is the only place on Chinese soil where large mass commemorations are held for the event. Candlelight vigils have been held in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park every year since 1990, and recent events have attracted tens of thousands of participants.

However, police did not give permission for this year’s rally to occur, citing coronavirus restrictions at gatherings of more than eight people, according to an official letter shared with CNN.

Although the pandemic was given as the reason for the demonstration, a national security bill was already looming over the anniversary.

The law, which Beijing will impose on the city in the coming weeks, penalizes secession, sedition and subversion, and could see a ban on groups such as the one organizing the annual Tiananmen rally, the Hong Kong Alliance in support of the patriotic democratic movements. in China.

“Perhaps the Hong Kong Alliance is prohibited from operating because of its long-term fight to end the one-party dictatorship,” the group said. he said in a statement Sunday, referring to the ruling Communist Party of China. “It can also be characterized as a subversive organization. Our capital and property can also be frozen and confiscated. If the person in charge violates the National Security Law, he can also be charged with the ‘crime of subverting the power of the state.'”

The Alliance has already asked people to celebrate this year’s anniversary by lighting candles at home and holding smaller-scale gatherings that are not in contravention of coronavirus restrictions, an invitation it extended globally.

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“Citizens in places where public action is impossible can quickly stay home for a day, commemorating students and civilians shot dead by the military in the June 4 massacre, and all who have died in the global pandemic as a result of the Concealment and blocking of information from the Communist Party, “the group said in a statement.

“Citizens in places where public action is possible can light candles at 8pm outside of Chinese agencies or in any other appropriate public place, and observe a minute of silence at 8:09 pm, both to commemorate the death and to demand responsibility. “

With coronavirus restrictions extended until June 4, the likelihood of the annual concentration being banned was high. However, it remains to be seen, next year, when the pandemic has passed, whether national security laws will prevent any commemoration from taking place.

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