Hong Kong’s “moral obligation” to commemorate Tiananmen, despite ban

During the illegal vigil of the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, in Victoria Park in Hong Kong, on June 4.
During the illegal vigil of the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, in Victoria Park in Hong Kong, on June 4. TYRONE SIU / REUTERS

The organizers of the vigil commemorating the Tiananmen massacre in Beijing thirty-one years ago on the night of June 3-4, 1989, had cleverly reacted to the police ban on the dubious pretext of fighting Covid-19 epidemic: they had called on the Hong Kongers to mark the anniversary in a dispersed manner, in small groups, or simply at home, by putting a candle at their window or online. However, they had indicated that they would nevertheless go to Victoria Park, where this great civic ceremony and the speeches that accompany it have taken place for thirty years.

“It is a must”, Lee Cheuk-yan, the current chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in support of democratic patriotic movements in China, the association which was formed in the heat of the spring of 1989, has told us about it since. And so, in the end, thousands of Hong Kongers followed suit, ignoring both the police ban and Alliance orders. Signing a new collective gesture of civil disobedience and mistrust in Beijing which would like so much that we cease to remind it of the embarrassing episode of Tiananmen.

“Illegal gathering”

For the Hong Kong people, the day was doubly symbolic, as the territory’s parliament adopted a controversial law that day punishing non-compliance with the national flag and the Chinese national anthem. Majority MPs approved the text with 41 votes in favor and one against, while some 25 opposition MPs attempted a final heckling diversion to prevent the vote. The offense is now punishable by three years in prison and a fine of up to 5,500 euros.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Tiananmen Memorial Vigil Banned for the First Time in Hong Kong

In 2017, after numerous incidents where the Chinese national anthem, The Volunteers’ March, had been booed, Beijing had designed and added a new law to Annex III of Basic Law, the local mini-Constitution, according to the same procedure as the future national security law, the principle of which was validated by the Chinese National People’s Congress, May 28. The latter is expected to be directly promulgated by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, in the coming weeks, without even going through parliament.

Thursday evening at the entrance to Victoria Park, to which thousands of people flock with calm and determination, a loudspeaker placed on the ground warns: “This is an illegal gathering place. “ Behind the compound, around twenty police officers in blue shirts were visibly ordered to do nothing in the face of the rising tide of participants. Under the wide avenues of trees, other public service announcements remind the thousands of night walkers that“Because of the Covid-19 epidemic, it is currently prohibited to be more than eight in one place” …

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