Tiananmen Memorial Vigil Banned for the First Time in Hong Kong

Vigil of remembrance of the Tiananmen massacre, June 4, 2019, in Victoria Park, Hong Kong.
Vigil of remembrance of the Tiananmen massacre, June 4, 2019, in Victoria Park, Hong Kong. PHILIP FONG / AFP

The thirty-first vigil of remembrance of the Tiananmen Massacre will not take place. The large Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island will not have a platform or giant screens. We will not see the archival films documenting the events of June 4, 1989 in Beijing, nor will we hear dissidents, student leaders of the time, speak live from Taiwan or the United States. United. There will not be, on the front pages of the next day’s newspapers, the tens of thousands of candles giving the immense esplanade of the park the appearance of a milky way. Beijing can rejoice: for the first time in thirty years, the high mass of the partisans of democracy in China has finally been banned in Hong Kong.

Read also Tiananmen’s worried memory in Hong Kong

The vigil will however take a new form, post-Covid-19. It will take place online between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., on the website www.64.live.org. Participants will be invited to light a candle, wherever they are, and observe a minute of silence. A wall of virtual memory will welcome the photos of all the participants in this dispersed vigil. “The theme this year is the truth, because we are asking for the truth about the epidemic and police brutality, just as we have been asking for the truth about June 4 for thirty-one years”, says Lee Cheuk-yan, co-founder of the Hong Kong Alliance in support of democratic patriotic movements in China, the movement that organizes vigils since the first, which took place in 1990. He intends to go despite everything park, accompanied by a few other pillars of the democratic movement, in groups of eight, in order to comply with health regulations.

To justify the ban on this emblematic event of the Hong Kong exception within China, the police estimated that such a rally would present a “Major threat to public health”. Nobody believed it. It is true that a new outbreak of Covid-19 infection appeared this week – the city has just documented five cases in two days. But, while the epidemic has been remarkably controlled (4 dead in 4 and a half months), the government had already announced, a fortnight ago, the extension of social distancing measures until June 5 … At the time, all the lights were green, because Hong Kong had not registered new local cases for several weeks.

National Security Law Threats

“If the government considers that schools, places of worship, bars, etc. can be reopened, no one believes that the ban on our vigil is not politically motivated. China has been looking for a way to prevent it for years, “ says Lee Cheuk-yan. He also thinks that the future National Security Law, which is being prepared in Beijing to be imposed soon in Hong Kong, will ban the next vigils, and even its organization, for good: “When you see that Liu Xiaobo [1955-2017, Prix Nobel de la paix 2010] has been sentenced to eleven years in prison for subversion, simply for his participation in Charter 08, our organization, which shares the same ideals, is likely to be targeted by the new national security law. “ The very unpopular former chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, also believed that the entry into force of the national security law would signify the end of the vigils of June 4.

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