World Hong Kong democracy vigil leader detained on Tiananmen anniversary
Hong Kong democracy leader detained on Tiananmen anniversary
Hong Kong police detained a democracy leader on Friday morning as authorities sought to prevent any public commemoration of the anniversary of Beijing's deadly Tiananmen crackdown. Thousands of officers were on standby after the government banned an annual candlelight vigil that has served for decades as a day of pro-democracy people power in the city. The first arrest came early Friday morning when Chow Hang-tung, one of the few remaining prominent democracy activists not already in jail was detained by four officers outside her office.Chow, 37, is one of the vice-chair of the Hong Kong Alliance which organises the annual vigil.
Hong Kong police detained one of the organisers of the annual vigil commemorating Beijing's deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown, as authorities sought to prevent any show of pro-democracy people power on Friday's sensitive anniversary.
About 7,000 officers have been placed on standby to stamp out any attempt to hold a mass candlelight vigil that Hong Kongers have attended in their thousands each anniversary for the past three decades.
Hong Kongers get creative as authorities ban Tiananmen vigil
Hong Kongers are seeking innovative ways to commemorate the victims of China's deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown after authorities banned an annual vigil and vowed to stamp out any protests come Friday's anniversary. - 'Refuse to forget' - But activists say authorities will struggle to eliminate all acts of commemoration in a city that still seethes with resentment towards Beijing after 2019's huge and often violent democracy protests were stamped out.Historically, the Tiananmen vigil candles are lit at 8.09 pm -- representing 1989.
The first arrest came early Friday morning when lawyer Chow Hang-tung, one of the few remaining prominent democracy activists not already in jail or in exile, was detained by four police officers outside her work.
Chow, 37, is one of the vice-chairs of the Hong Kong Alliance which organises the annual vigil.
Police confirmed two people -- Chow and a 20-year-old male -- had been arrested on suspicion of publicising an unlawful assembly through social media posts.
"Their online remarks involved advertising and calling on others to participate or attend banned public activities," senior superintendent Law Kwok-hoi told reporters.
On Tiananmen Anniversary, China Paper Says West Anxious About Communist Party Strength
The Chinese Communist Party has cracked down on events commemorating the 1989 massacre. The party also says that only 200 citizens died in the event—a British source says the number is closer to 10,000.The editor's note, published as a prologue to a series of stories building up to the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party's founding in July, did not explicitly identify the 1989 protests. The protests were crushed when tanks fought their way into Tiananmen Square in Beijing, killing thousands of people.
Huge crowds have traditionally gathered in Hong Kong to mark the anniversary of Chinese troops crushing peaceful democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
Hundreds were killed in the crackdown, by some estimates more than 1,000.
Public commemorations of the event are forbidden on the mainland.
Under a "One country, two systems" policy that was meant to give Hong Kong more freedoms, the city was the only place on Chinese soil where large-scale commemorations were tolerated and the huge crowds massed each year in Victoria Park.
But, after months of huge and often violent democracy protests in 2019, China has carried out a sweeping campaign to silence dissent and enforce "patriotism".
Hong Kong park empty on Tiananmen anniversary but protests flicker
A Hong Kong park that traditionally hosts huge vigils on the anniversary of China's deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown lay empty for the first time late Friday as police blocked access, but flashes of defiance still flickered across the city. Huge crowds have routinely gathered in Hong Kong's Victoria Park to mark the anniversary of Chinese troops crushing peaceful democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Hundreds wereHuge crowds have routinely gathered in Hong Kong's Victoria Park to mark the anniversary of Chinese troops crushing peaceful democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.
Authorities banned this year's gathering citing the coronavirus pandemic -- although Hong Kong has not recorded an untraceable local transmission in more than a month.
While last year's vigil was also denied permission because of the pandemic, thousands defied the ban.
Authorities warned in recent days the subversion clause of a powerful new national law imposed on Hong Kong could be used against those marking the Tiananmen anniversary.
Beijing imposed the law a few weeks after last year's Tiananmen rally and it has transformed the city's once freewheeling political landscape.
More than 100 pro-democracy figures have been arrested under the security law, mostly for political views and speech. Most are denied bail and face up to life in prison if convicted.
Hong Kong marks Tiananmen Square crackdown
For the second year running authorities ban a vigil for the anniversary, citing the Covid pandemic.Macau and Hong Kong are the only places in China where people can commemorate the 1989 event, when Chinese soldiers enacted a deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing. Estimates of the dead vary from a few hundred to several thousand.
- Creative resistance -
However China has been unable to quash all dissent, and Hong Kongers were planning creative ways to mark Friday's anniversary.
"A regime can ban an assembly but it can never ban the indelible grievances in people's hearts," Lee Cheuk-yan, a now jailed democracy activist and the current head of the Hong Kong Alliance, wrote in a message posted on his Facebook page on Thursday.
Activists have called on residents to light candles in their own homes or neighbourhoods come Friday evening, or post commemoration messages on social media.
"Turn on the lights wherever you are -- be it torchlight on your phone, real candles or electronic candles," Chow wrote on Facebook page just hours before her arrest.
Clara Cheung was among a small group of artists who gathered near Victoria Park on Thursday evening.
She brought 64 white flowers -- representing June 4 -- and laid them on the street.
"We need to find a new way to express ourselves," she told AFP.
Pro-Beijing politicians have suggested that calls to "End one party rule" and "Bring democracy to China" -- both common chants at Tiananmen vigils -- could now be deemed subversion, one of the crimes in the broadly worded national security law.
The security legislation has also been combined with a campaign dubbed "Patriots rule Hong Kong" aimed at purging from public office anyone perceived to be disloyal.
- 'Full accounting' -
In mainland China, the Tiananmen anniversary is usually marked with an increase in online censorship and the square in Beijing being cordoned off.
There was tight security at the square on Friday, with police controlling IDs of people at each point of access, according to an AFP journalist in Beijing.
China often faces international criticism for its campaign to stifle remembrance of the crackdown.
On Friday, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken called "a full accounting of all those killed, detained, or missing".
Taiwan's foreign ministry said "the students of Tiananmen and Hong Kong must not be erased nor forgotten."
Wix Apologizes for Removing Website in Support of Hong Kong Democracy .
A Hong Kong pro-democracy site was removed by the web hosting company after authorities threatened prosecution.The Israel-based company said in an email that the website was taken down by mistake and has since been restored.