People in Hong Kong are marking the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, but in a much more muted way than in previous years.
Macau and Hong Kong are the only places in China where people can commemorate the anniversary of the deadly 1989 crackdown by Chinese soldiers on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing. Estimates of the dead vary from a few hundred to several thousand.
But for the second year running, authorities in Hong Kong have banned an annual vigil for the event. They cite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic for the restrictions.
Officers closed off Victoria Park, where the annual vigil is normally held, and dispersed crowds who gathered with candles or their phone lights lit.
This year’s anniversary is the first since a new controversial security law was approved, aimed at ending the city’s pro-democracy movement and criminalising dissent.
On Friday, officials arrested pro-democracy activist Chow Hang Tung, vice chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance which organises annual vigils for victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Thousands defied last year’s ban on the vigil, knocking down barricades around Victoria Park.
But this year commemorations are so far more constrained. The new security law – passed in 2020 – makes it easier to punish protesters and reduces Hong Kong’s autonomy.
There were calls online from activists to light candles, house lights and even cigarettes to mark the event at 20:00 local time (12:00 GMT).
Police warned of more arrests, and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that citizens must respect the law.
In past years there were huge street demonstrations to mark the anniversary.
Thousands of people took part in a candle light vigil in 2019 – the last year the annual event could be held.
In mainland China, authorities have banned even oblique references to the events of June 4. Online, any discussion of the crackdown is strictly censored.
Taiwan commemorates the anniversary every year, using the event to criticise China and urge Beijing to embark on real political reform.
On her Facebook page, President Tsai Ing-wen wrote: “I believe that all Taiwanese who are proud of their freedom and democracy will never forget about this day and will firmly stick with their faith, unshaken by storms.”
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