Hong Hong police announced on Friday, the eve of the 33rd anniversary of China's Tiananmen crackdown, that they would close the city's Victoria Park where a memorial candlelight vigil was held until 2019.
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Already on Thursday, the police had warned the population against any temptation to participate in rallies, which would amount to breaking the 2020 national security law imposed by Beijing on this territory – hitherto semi-autonomous – to stifle any pro-democracy dissent.
In the past, Hong Kong was the only Chinese territory where commemorations and tributes to the victims of June 4, 1989, were tolerated, when the Chinese government sent troops and tanks to brutally suppress peaceful pro-democracy protesters. In mainland China, the subject remains taboo, whether in the media or in books.
Hong Kong police have announced that most of Victoria Park will be closed from Friday evening until Sunday morning.
This decision was taken “to prevent any prohibited assembly which could undermine public safety and public order, and risk spreading the coronavirus”, argued a spokesperson.
The annual vigil had already been banned in 2020 and 2021, in the name of health measures against Covid-19.
The main organizers of the commemorations have kept a low profile this year, but police say they have seen calls to gather in or around the park on social media.
The Hong Kong Alliance, organizer of the vigil in Victoria Park, has now been dissolved and its leaders are being prosecuted for “incitement to subversion”, an offense against national security.
Jailed former Alliance leader Lee Cheuk-yan announced in a letter that he planned to fast on June 4, light a match and sing memorial songs in his cell.
“I believe Hong Kong people will join me in commemorating June 4 in all sincerity, using their own means to express their commitment to democracy,” Lee wrote in a letter posted online Friday.
In neighboring Macau, former opposition lawmaker Au Kam-san said Democrats would not hold a dedicated Tiananmen vigil this year due to "the deteriorating political environment in Macau", adding that a historical exhibition would also be cancelled.
Mr. Au said he would light a candle on June 4 and livestream it on Facebook as a sign of perseverance.