Hong Kongers to defy ban against Tiananmen massacre memorial

Although they face up to five years in prison, some Hong Kongers are ready to defy a police ban against the Tiananmen massacre vigil Friday, 4 June, at Victoria Park.

Jun 05, 2021

Activists hold a candlelit vigil in Victoria Park in Hong Kong on June 4, 2020. (AsiaNews photo)

Although they face up to five years in prison, some Hong Kongers are ready to defy a police ban against the Tiananmen massacre vigil Friday, 4 June, at Victoria Park.

Porson Chan, a project officer for the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong  Catholic Diocese said, “We believe that celebrating a Catholic Mass is a religious activity  protected by our basic law.” He said this referring to the set of laws informally known as the  “mini-Constitution” under which the city is run.

Chan said seven Catholic churches across  Hong Kong will hold a memorial Mass on June  4 at 8 p.m., when the commemoration in Victoria Park was held every year since 1990, as part  of the normal functions of a church allowed by  law

Last week, Hong Kong police issue an order forbidding the traditional memorial vigil. As in 2020, COVID-19 and related restrictions were cited as the reason for the prohibition.

On 4 June 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 organised an annual commemorative vigil.

Now the group is the target of pro-Beijing groups in Hong Kong, which are calling for its ban as a “subversive” entity'; three of its leading figures, Lee Cheuk-yan, Albert Ho, and Richard Tsoi, are either in prison or with a suspended sentence hanging over them for taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

This year, the Alliance is not asking the people of the former British colony to give up demonstrating, but is urging them to be careful, given the possible legal consequences of violating the ban.

As Albert Ho suggested, activists should light candles or turn on the torch on their smartphones at home or in a place other than Victoria Park.

Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, refused to answer questions this morning about the ban of the Tiananmen vigil.

Local reporters pointed out that anti-coronavirus measures did not prevent recent public events, such as flower and arts fairs.

According to critics, COVID-19 prevention is an excuse used by the authorities to repress the pro-democracy movement.

The most common slogan associated with the vigil is “End one-party rule”, a reference to the Chinese Communist Party.

Lam did not rule out that the words might violate the draconian national security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong last year.

“Concerning the meaning of the slogan, we have to consider in what context the slogan was said and whether it would contravene certain provisions under the law,” said the pro-Beijing leader.

Meanwhile, in mainland China, the authorities have forced a number of pro-democracy activists and dissidents to leave Beijing and not speak to the press.

The gag order goes into effect every year as the anniversary of Tiananmen approaches.

Restrictive measures have already been taken against Zha Jianguo, Tan Zuoren, Ji Feng, and Yang Shaozheng, this according to Radio Free Asia and Apple Daily.––Asia News

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