Hong Kong police clamp down on Tiananmen Square vigil and arrest organiser.

Police blocked off a Hong Kong park to prevent people gathering to commemorate the anniversary of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on Friday and arrested the planned vigil’s organiser.

The ban on the vigil came amid growing concern in the pro-democracy movement and internationally about the suppression of the semi-autonomous city’s traditional freedoms, notably a national security law imposed by Beijing last year.

The annual June 4th vigil is usually held in the former British colony’s Victoria Park, with people gathering to light candles for the pro-democracy demonstrators killed by Chinese troops in Beijing 32 years ago.

This year, with thousands of police deployed across the city, some marked the anniversary in churches or at home amid fears of being arrested.

In the working class district of Mong Kok, minor scuffles broke out and police arrested one person. As night fell, police cleared people from around Victoria Park as they walked with their phone lights on. Police said at least six people were arrested on Friday aged between 20 and 75.

“Being able to have a memory is a basic human right. Taking that away is beyond anyone’s authority,” district councillor Derek Chu told Reuters. “We need to remember those people who have been sacrificed for democracy in the past.”

Early on Friday, police arrested Chow Hang Tung, vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, for promoting an unauthorised assembly.

“She only wanted to go to Victoria Park, light a candle and commemorate,” Chiu Yan Loy, executive member of the Alliance, told Reuters.

Chow Hang Tung speaks to media outside a court in Hong Kong on May 6th. File photograph: AP

Chow Hang Tung speaks to media outside a court in Hong Kong on May 6th. File photograph: AP

He said believed her arrest was meant to strike fear into those planning to attend.

Ms Chow told Reuters earlier this week that June 4th was a test for Hong Kong “of whether we can defend our bottom line of morality”.

The Alliance’s chairman, Lee Cheuk-yan, is in jail over an illegal assembly.

Five years

Authorities warned of more arrests and said that anyone who took part in an unauthorised assembly could face up to five years in jail.

Police cordoned off most of the downtown park, including football pitches and basketball courts. They also conducted stop-and-search checks across the city, with officers posted at three cross-harbour tunnels.

The heightened vigilance from authorities was a marked departure from Hong Kong’s freedoms of speech and assembly, bringing the global financial hub closer in line with mainland China’s strict controls on society, activists say.

Police did not say whether commemorating Tiananmen would breach the new national security law.

“From the bottom of my heart, I must say I believe Hong Kong is still a very safe and free city,” senior superintendent Liauw Ka-kei told reporters, saying police had no option but to enforce the law.

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam has only said that citizens must respect the law, as well as the Communist Party, which this year celebrates its 100th anniversary. June 4th commemorations are banned in mainland China.

China has never provided a full account of the 1989 violence in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The death toll given by officials days later was about 300, most of them soldiers, but rights groups and witnesses say thousands of people may have perished.

Full churches

At the United States consulate and European Union office in Hong Kong, candles flickered at windows throughout the buildings. Seven churches that arranged to hold memorial masses were full, according to their Facebook pages, with some of the congregation holding white flowers and lighting candles.

One church on Hong Kong island quickly reached its 30 per cent capacity set by coronavirus restrictions and opened up its courtyard to accommodate more people.

Jailed activist Jimmy Sham said via his Facebook page he planned to “light a cigarette at 8pm”.

“We do not see the hope of democracy and freedom in a leader, a group, or a ceremony. Every one of us is the hope of democracy and freedom,” he said.

Last year, thousands in Hong Kong defied the ban on marking the Tiananmen anniversary.

Prominent democracy activist Joshua Wong received a 10-month prison sentence last month for participating in the 2020 vigil, while three others got four-to six-month sentences. Twenty more are due in court on June 11th on similar charges. – Reuters

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Twitter briefly suspends Dave Portnoy for unknown reason.

Twitter briefly suspends Dave Portnoy for unknown reason.

The Barstool Sports founder was reinstated after uproar, it is still unclear why the media figure was banned. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompass...

Mexico City Metro Collapse Blamed On Poor Construction.

Mexico City Metro Collapse Blamed On Poor Construction.

Officials are under pressure after an independent investigation pointed to structural faults as the cause of the accident. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News Digital is a collection of innovative and powerful news brands tha...

Juneteenth Becomes a Federal Holiday in the US

Juneteenth Becomes a Federal Holiday in the US

African Americans traditionally celebrate and reflect on the anniversary of the announcement that ended slavery in America

Condoleezza Rice explains growing up in segregated Alabama - Everything will be Okay.

Condoleezza Rice explains growing up in segregated Alabama - Everything will be Okay.

This week, Dana sits down with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Secretary Rice discusses how her father influenced her life and shaped her into the powerful woman she is today and how his guidance helped her during some of the most...

For Juneteenth, Obama reflects on future of democracy and bridging the divide.

For Juneteenth, Obama reflects on future of democracy and bridging the divide.

Former President Barack Obama acknowledged a political divide but said he hopes for unity. He said that the next generation has the responsibility to further equality for all.

Boris Johnson reflects on 'peculiar and bizarre' Chesham and Amersham by-election defeat.

Boris Johnson reflects on 'peculiar and bizarre' Chesham and Amersham by-election defeat.

Boris Johnson said he believed in “uniting and levelling up” across the country when asked if the Chesham and Amersham by-election loss was a sign the “Blue Wall” in the South was being neglected for voters in the North. From Brexit breaking news ...