Hong Kong police patrol to enforce Tiananmen vigil ban | Health, medicine and fitness

By Zain Soo – The Associated Press

HONG KONG (AFP) – A heavy police force patrolled Hong Kong’s Victoria Park on Saturday after authorities banned for the third year in a row public observances of the death anniversary. Tiananmen Square campaign In 1989, the vigil outside was the only place to commemorate this event.

For decades, Hong Kong and neighboring Macau have been The only places in China He was allowed to commemorate the violent suppression by military forces of student protesters demanding more democracy in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. Hundreds, if not thousands, were killed.

Ban is seen as part of the transition to suppression of political opposition And a sign that Hong Kong is losing its freedoms as Beijing tightens its grip on the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

Vigil organizersThe Hong Kong Alliance in Support of National Democratic Movements in China was dissolved last year after several of its leaders were arrested on suspicion of violating the national security law, which was imposed in the wake of massive pro-democracy protests in 2019.

Authorities have pointed to the coronavirus risks of banning public celebrations for the past three years. Critics say the pandemic is being used as an excuse to violate the right to assemble.

A government statement said on Friday that parts of Victoria Park, which has traditionally been a venue for candlelight protests, would be closed because it could be used for “illegal activities”. The move was to “prevent any unauthorized gatherings” in the park and reduce the potential for the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier in the week, a police watchdog warned that anyone who gathers in a group “in the same place, at the same time and for the common purpose of expressing certain opinions” could be considered part of an unauthorized gathering.

โ€œI am disappointed that although no commemorative event has been organized, the authorities are already on high alert,โ€ said Donald Tam, a resident who was shopping in the Causeway Bay area, where the park is located.

Since the British handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997, the city has been governed by a “one country, two systems” framework that gives it freedoms not found on the mainland, including freedom of speech and assembly. This means that neighboring Hong Kong and Macau, another semi-autonomous region, have been allowed to commemorate the 1989 crackdown. Elsewhere in China, keywords such as “Tiananmen massacre” and “June 4” are strictly censored online, and people are not allowed to Announcing the event publicly.

Outside China, vigils have been held to commemorate the Tiananmen victims.

US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said that although China and Hong Kong were trying to suppress memories of the crackdown, his government would continue to speak out and promote accountability for human rights abuses by China, including those in Hong Kong, against Muslim minorities in western Xinjiang as well as Tibet.

“To the people of China and those who continue to stand against injustice and strive for freedom, we will never forget the Fourth of June,” he said.

In Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing claims as part of its territory, the Foreign Ministry wrote on Facebook that “when this time of year comes, there is a lot one cannot say, a lot one cannot write, and a lot one cannot even search for.” on the Internet “.

The post encouraged Chinese citizens using a VPN to access Facebook, which is banned in China, to seek information about the Tiananmen Square massacre “to find out what their country is hiding from them.”

“Taiwan was commemorating the June 4 massacre before Hong Kong, and every place (in the rest of the world) this event was held interprets it in its own way,” said Taiwan Democratic activist Li Ming-chi. “We must be aware of China’s threats and protect Taiwan’s values โ€‹โ€‹of democracy, human rights and freedom.”

Joanna Chen, a graduate student, said commemorating the June 4 massacre is important because Taiwan is one of the few places in Greater China to publicly commemorate such an event.

“We must remind the Taiwanese people that democracy should not be taken for granted,” she said.

In Sydney, about 50 democracy supporters lit candles outside the Chinese consulate to commemorate the massacre, while several police officers watched.

In the Indian city of Dharmsala, home of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, activists staged a street theater to commemorate Tiananmen. They used pieces from a Chinese tank to recreate “Tank Man,” An iconic photograph taken by the Associated Press of a student standing in front of a tank, which came to symbolize courage in the face of the Chinese government’s suppression of the protest.

For the first time in 30 years, Catholic churches in Hong Kong have skipped mass for Tiananmen victims, after the diocese expressed concerns that such events might violate national security law.

Authorities are using the law to suppress dissent, with more than 150 people arrested on suspicion of crimes including subversion, separatism, terrorism and foreign complicity in interfering in city affairs.

The repression also included universities. In December 2021, A statue called “Pillar of Shame”, depicting torn and twisted bodies to symbolize the lives lost during the massacre, and were removed at the University of Hong Kong. Officials said no approval had been obtained to display the statue.

A day later, two other universities in the city removed the memorial-related relics.

In response, Jens Galschioet, the artist who created The Pillar of Shame, last week unveiled a full-scale replica of an 8-meter (26-foot) sculpture at the University of Oslo in Norway.

Associated Press reporters Alice Fong in Hong Kong, Tejing Wu in Taipei, Taiwan, Mark Baker in Sydney, and Ashwini Bhatia in Dharamsala, India, contributed to this report.

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