police prevent any public commemoration of Tiananmen


published on Saturday, June 4, 2022 at 6:18 p.m.

Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Friday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.

AFP reporters saw at least half a dozen people taken away by police, including Social Democrat League (LSD) activist Yu Wai-pan, a pro-democracy political party in the crosshairs authorities.

They had warned that any participation in “unauthorized assemblies” would be punishable by five years in prison. Especially around Victoria Park, closed on Saturday, which was the scene until 2019 of gigantic candlelight vigils in memory of Tiananmen.

In the evening, many passersby around the park turned on their cell phone lamps, failing to light candles. Police ordered them to turn them off through a loudspeaker, warning them that they were breaking the law.

On June 4, 1989, the Chinese Communist regime repressed peaceful protesters with tanks and troops who had been occupying the iconic Beijing Square for weeks to demand political change and an end to systemic corruption. The crash of the movement had claimed hundreds of lives, more than a thousand, according to some estimates.

Since then, Chinese authorities have been working to erase Tiananmen from the collective memory. History textbooks do not mention it, online discussions are systematically censored.

In Beijing, authorities have installed facial recognition devices on the streets leading to the square. Police were conducting tentative identity checks on Saturday.

If in China it has always been taboo to talk about the events of 1989, Hong Kong was an exception until 2020.

Beijing then imposed a draconian national security law on the semi-autonomous region to quell dissent, following the huge pro-democracy protests of 2019. Since then, local authorities have also been working to erase all traces of Tiananmen memory.

– Black and chrysanthemum t-shirt –

On Saturday night, Mr. Yu and two other LSD members arrived in the bustling Causeway Bay shopping district and stood in silence, wearing masks with crosses on their mouths.

They were searched by police and then released, and Mr. Yu was arrested again a few minutes later as he approached Victoria Park.

A former leader of the Hong Kong Alliance, the association that organized the vigils, was spotted by his agents as he walked around the neighborhood with a bouquet of red and white roses in his hand, and his bag was searched.

“The government is very afraid of a possible rally,” Dorothy, a 32-year-old Hong Kong woman, told AFP. The end of the vigils is “a great loss to society,” she laments.

A Hong Kong woman told AFP that she had lit a candle in her home and placed a replica of the “Goddess of Democracy”, the symbol statue of the Tiananmen movement, on a window sill.

– Warnings to consulates –

The vigils had already been banned in 2020 and 2021 in the name of fighting Covid, and then last September the Hong Kong Alliance was disbanded, its June 4 Museum dismantled, its leaders arrested.

The lack of clarity on what is legal or not has also prompted six Hong Kong universities in recent months to unbolt Tiananmen memorials erected on their campuses.

On Saturday evening, the windows of the US consulate and the European Union (EU) office were lit by candles.

The EU “is still in solidarity with human rights defenders around the world,” she wrote on Twitter (which is blocked in China), posting a photo of dozens of candles on a window sill.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken paid tribute on Twitter to “brave protesters” who had “peacefully demanded democracy” in Tiananmen: “Despite the removal of memorials and attempts to erase history, we let’s honor their memory by promoting respect for human rights wherever they are threatened. “

In response, a spokesman for the city’s Chinese Foreign Ministry office said it was “strongly rejecting” the allegations.

“Their political show has interfered in China’s internal affairs under the guise of human rights and freedom, and has tarnished human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong, to incite “Hostility and confrontation and tarnish China’s image,” according to a statement.

Nevertheless, vigils were held on Saturday by Amnesty International in 20 cities around the world.

In Melbourne, “we want this spirit to last forever,” said Frank Ruan, a former Tiananmen Square protester who said he was lucky to have survived.

In Taipei, Connie Lui, a 65-year-old hospital employee who left Hong Kong a year and a half ago due to the political situation, told AFP that “this is the only place now where we can “I am here on behalf of all my friends in Hong Kong who cannot be present.”

“The collective memory of June 4 in Hong Kong has been systematically erased,” said Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

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