Activists in Hong Kong are planning to defy a ban on the annual vigil to mark the Chinese government’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
Albert Ho, one of the leading figures of anti-government protests, suggested that activists light candles or turn on the torch on their smartphones at home or in a place other than Victoria Park.
The traditional memorial vigil used to be held at the park every year on June 4.
Organizers of the annual event, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, earlier announced that they lost an appeal to hold this year’s rally.
This marks the second year that Hong Kong police have banned the vigil, citing coronavirus restrictions.
As in 2020, COVID-19 and related restrictions were cited as the reason for the prohibition.
On June 4, 1989, thousands of Chinese students and ordinary citizens were massacred in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square for demanding freedom and democracy in the country.
Until 2019, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China organized an annual commemorative vigil.
“Hong Kong Alliance can no longer organize the candlelight vigil this year in a lawful manner. We will stop promoting the vigil,” said Richard Tsoi, spokesperson of the alliance.
“On that day, we won’t, as an organization and members of Hong Kong Alliance, appear and join,” he said even as he added that Hong Kong people would still commemorate the day in a peaceful manner.
Samuel Chu, who runs the Hong Kong Democracy Council in Washington, retweeted an image of Tsoi making his statement, writing, “We will light a candle for you and all of Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong’s Security Bureau issued a statement warning people not to take part in illegal assemblies or violate the national security law imposed on the territory by Beijing.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s June 4th Museum, dedicated to commemorating the victims of China’s 1989 crackdown, would temporarily close due to a licensing investigation.
In a statement, the museum said the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department alleged that the venue had not obtained a public entertainment venue license.
The department said in a statement its probe was launched after it had received a complaint that the venue operated without a license.
The museum said it would seek legal advice, and close until further notice to protect the safety of staff and visitors.
The Alliance, which runs the museum, said it “hopes Hong Kongers will continue to be wise, flexible and determined to commemorate June 4 legally, safely, peacefully, rationally in their own way, at a suitable time and place, such that the truth will not be forgotten.”
The inspection raises concerns over freedom of speech in Hong Kong, which traditionally holds the largest June 4 vigil in the world to commemorate the crackdown. – with reports from Reuters