Tiananmen: 31 years later, commemoration banned in Hong Kong

Hong Kong | The Hong Kongers are expected to lead the global commemoration of the Tiananmen crackdown on Thursday, but are unable to participate in the traditional remembrance rally, banned for the first time, 31 years later.

A vigil attracts huge crowds to the former British colony each year in memory of the bloody intervention of the Chinese army on the night of June 3-4, 1989, around the famous heart square in Beijing.

The repression had left between several hundred and more than a thousand dead. She had ended seven weeks of student and worker protests denouncing corruption and demanding democracy.

The subject is taboo in China. AFP photographer was arrested on Thursday morning in Beijing by police, who forced him to erase most of his pictures while driving around Tiananmen Square.

In this context, Hong Kong is the only place in the country where the event is commemorated each year, which illustrates the unique freedoms enjoyed by the autonomous territory, which returned to the Chinese fold in 1997.

But for the first time in three decades, the vigil was not authorized this year by the police. The latter invoked the risks associated with Covid-19, the gathering of more than eight people remaining prohibited in the city.

In exchange, the organizers called on residents to light candles at 8:00 p.m. local time (12:00 p.m. GMT) where they are.

Vigils usually attract crowds of Hong Kongers, especially in years when concern over Beijing’s attitude toward the Autonomous Territory is particularly high.

Last year, the vigil of 30e The anniversary had already taken place in a tense political context: the pro-Beijing Hong Kong executive was trying to impose authorization for extraditions to mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macao).

A week later, seven months of almost daily demonstrations began in the financial metropolis.

In response to this movement, Beijing announced in late May its intention to impose a national security law in Hong Kong, which plans to punish separatist, “terrorist” activities, subversion, and foreign interference in the territory.

White candles

Hong Kong people without a wake-up call plan to show their distrust in Beijing in another way.

“White candles should be distributed in about 100 to 200 points in Hong Kong,” said Chiu Yan-loy, a district elected official and a member of the association “Alliance de Hong Kong” – traditional organizer of the vigil.

In mainland China, no public commemoration is possible: the media remain silent, the censors erase all mention on the internet and the police closely monitor the dissidents before the fateful date of June 4.

Proof of the subject’s extreme sensitivity, even candle emojis have been made unavailable on the popular Chinese social network Weibo.

Vigils are however planned in Taiwan and within the Chinese diaspora in several Western countries.

The United States has praised the memory of the victims, as it does every year.

US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo met with four figures from the movement on Wednesday in Washington, including one of the country’s top student leaders, Wang Dan.

Washington called on Beijing to provide “a full account” of the massacre, whose anniversary telescope this year in American news: President Donald Trump has threatened to call on the army to put an end to the excesses observed across the country on the sidelines of protests against racism and police violence.

Brussels also pleaded for the Hong Kong people to be allowed to commemorate the event.

Asked about the crackdown, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that the Chinese authorities had “already reached a clear conclusion on the political unrest that occurred in the late 1980s”.

“The great achievements of New China over the past 70 years have fully demonstrated that the path of development chosen by China is entirely correct,” said Zhao Lijian.

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