HONG KONG (AP) – A member of the committee organizing Hong Kong’s annual candlelight vigil for the victims of the Tiananmen Square raid was arrested early Friday on the 32nd anniversary, local media reported.
The public broadcaster RTHK and others reported that Chow Hang Tung, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of China’s Patriotic Democratic Movements, was arrested by police early Friday.
It is not clear why Chow was arrested and the police have not yet addressed the matter.
The committee organized the vigil and ran a museum devoted to the military’s crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. The vigil was canceled for a second year by city authorities and the museum was closed this week.
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HONG KONG (AP) – For years, China has suppressed any mainland discussion of its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989, almost erasing what happened from the collective consciousness. Now it could be Hong Kong’s turn as China’s ruling Communist Party pulls the city more directly into orbit.
For years, the semi-autonomous Hong Kong and nearby Macau were the last places on Chinese soil to publicly announce the events of the 4th, if not thousands, of dead.
Before last year, tens of thousands gathered annually in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, lit candles and sang songs to commemorate the victims. But the authorities are banning this vigil for the second time in a row, citing the coronavirus pandemic. And a museum dedicated to the event suddenly closed on Wednesday, just two days before Friday’s anniversary, after authorities investigated that it did not have the necessary licenses to exhibit in public.
Hong Kong’s security minister warned residents last week not to attend unauthorized gatherings.
In mainland China, younger generations grew up with little knowledge or debate about how to proceed, but efforts to suppress commemorations in Hong Kong reflect another twist in Beijing’s ever-tightened control over Hong Kong after massive anti-government protests in 2019. These demonstrations developed into months of, sometimes violent, clashes between small groups of demonstrators and the police. And they have led to broader crackdown on dissent in the former British colony, which had long been an oasis of capitalism and democracy and was promised to largely preserve its freedoms for 50 years when it was returned to China in 1997.
Since the protests, China has passed a comprehensive national security law, in part aimed at increasing penalties for the protesters’ actions, and authorities have tried to arrest almost all of the city’s outspoken and prominent figures. Most of them are either behind bars or have fled the city.
Despite the restrictions this year, Hong Kong residents are being urged to privately remember the 1989 raid, with vigil organizers telling residents to light a candle at 8 p.m. on Friday no matter where they are.
Online calls circulating on social media also prompted residents to dress in black on Friday. The local newspaper Ming Pao published an article last week suggesting that residents write the numbers six and four on their light switches – a nod to the date of the 4th.
Chan Kin Wing has been a regular participant in the Hong Kong vigil for decades.
“I was lucky to be born in Hong Kong. If I had been born on the mainland, I could have been one of the students in Tiananmen Square that day, ”said Chan, whose parents fled the mainland to Hong Kong in the 1960s.
“When June 4, 1989 happened, the whole of Hong Kong saw the indelible historic event where students were massacred by a corrupt regime,” said Chan.
This year, Chan plans to privately remember the event, dress in black and change his profile picture on social media to a picture of a burning candle in the dark.
“I have made a commitment to never forget June 4th and I try to pass on memories of it to make sure it is never forgotten,” he said.
In mainland China, the Tiananmen Mothers ‘group, who represent the victims’ families, posted an appeal on the Human Rights in China website calling on the party to meet its long-standing demands for full disclosure of the crackdown’s official record and to provide compensation for those killed and injured, and those responsible to be held accountable.
“We look forward to the day when the CCP and the Chinese government can sincerely and courageously put things right and take their due responsibility for the inhuman massacre of 1989 in accordance with the law and the facts,” the statement said.
However, the government seems intent on reducing the time involved in making such appeals.
While the Tiananmen mothers said 62 of their members had died since the group was founded in the late 1990s, many young Chinese “grew up with a false sense of prosperity and forced glorification of the government (and) clueless or refuse to accept believe what happened on June 4, 1989 in the capital of the country. “
In Hong Kong, the recent arrests and convictions of prominent activists have had a chilling effect on those who have attended the vigil in the past, said Chow Hang Tung, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China. who runs the June 4th Museum.
“Obviously there will be fear and people cannot simply assume that they can come and express their remembrance for the victims of the Tiananmen massacre and be unharmed,” she said.
Chow said what keeps them alive is the dream that China and Hong Kong could both one day have democracy. However, the tide appears to be going in the other direction.
“It’s worth fighting for,” she said. “If one day we cannot talk about Tiananmen, it would mean that Hong Kong is fully integrated into Chinese society.”
Associated Press video journalist Alice Fung contributed.