Tienanmen Anniversary Time…But Not in Hong Kong

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Police officers setup a cordon as they disperse public out of the Victoria Park ahead of the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident on 3 June, 2022 in Hong Kong, China. Source: Getty / Anthony Kwan/Getty Images”.)

Some “Special Administrative Region” these days. From a story at the Globe and Mail:

As Hong Kong clamps down, ‘burden of remembering’ Tiananmen Massacre shifts overseas

James Griffiths Asia correspondent

Hong Kong

In the decades since the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing on June 4, 1989, one of the most indelible images associated with the event, alongside “Tank Man” and the Goddess of Democracy statue, has been a sea of candles, lighting up the night.

Every year, tens of thousands gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to commemorate the dead and echo their calls for democracy in China.

No more. The 30th anniversary of the massacre in 2019 was the last time it was marked by a mass gathering in Hong Kong. Memorials since then have been banned on coronavirus grounds, as is the case this year, with public gatherings still limited to four people.

Instead, the anniversary will be commemorated by smaller events, spread over the world, often organized by members of the Hong Kong and Chinese diasporas [emphasis added]. While many are longstanding memorials – in places like Toronto, London and San Francisco – they are taking on a new importance now that there is no centralized mass event on Chinese soil.

“With the last symbol of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in Hong Kong being taken away it is crucial for Hong Kongers and all persons of conscience around the world to pick up the torch and make sure that the flame of freedom and democracy remain burning,” said Mabel Tung, chair of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement (VSSDM [website here]), a group founded by Chinese Canadians in support of the 1989 protests.

“Ultimately, it will be up to all of us who live in a democratic nation to keep the memory of June 4th alive.”

Earlier this week, Hong Kong police warned that anyone gathering in Victoria Park, where public areas have been blocked off for June 4, would run the risk of prosecution, echoing comments by the city’s leader, Carrie Lam…

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which traditionally organized the annual candlelit vigil, was forced to disband last year after its assets were frozen and multiple leaders jailed under the national security law imposed on the city by Beijing in 2020.

Catholic churches that previously held memorial masses – including in the last two years when the main vigil was banned – have also said they would no longer do so given the growing legal risk…

Meanwhile, an online museum dedicated to the Tiananmen massacre appears to have been blocked by Hong Kong internet providers, joining a number of dissident and activist groups websites based overseas that are not accessible to users in the city.

Whether the Tiananmen vigils could continue was long seen as a key test for Hong Kong’s relative autonomy from China [emphasis added], said Sean Cha of Democracy for Hong Kong, which is organizing a vigil in London [they tweet here].

“The fact that it cannot happen anymore gives a new meaning to the June 4 vigils for Hong Kongers around the world,” he said…

For more than 30 years now, Toronto has hosted the largest memorial in the world outside Hong Kong [emphasis added], said organizer Cheuk Kwan, “so it’s even more significant that we keep it up [note this earlier post: “The Long Reach of the Dragon’s Claws, Hong Kongers in Canada Section“]

Amnesty International said it is arranging events in more than 20 cities this year [more at their website; the organization has closed its two Hong Kong offices], and will call on participants not only to remember those killed in Beijing, but also “stand in solidarity with those in Hong Kong whose peaceful acts of commemoration are now criminalized.”

In Asia, one of the largest memorials will be in Taipei, where organizers plan to unveil a replica of the “Pillar of Shame,” a statue commemorating the Tiananmen victims that was forcibly removed from Hong Kong last year

Follow James Griffiths on Twitter: @jgriffiths

Three tweets:

Not blooming now:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

3 thoughts on “Tienanmen Anniversary Time…But Not in Hong Kong”

  1. Meanwhile on the book front:

    And a post from 2021:

    Mark Collins


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