For the second consecutive year, Hong Kong police on Thursday banned the annual June 4 vigil commemorating China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre citing coronavirus restrictions. Up to 180,000 each year had joined the vigil held at Victoria Park for 30 years.
Hong Kong’s Tiananmen vigil ban comes 2 days after neighbouring Macau Police refused any June 4 event for “inciting subversion”, the first time authorities have made clear a political reason for banning remembrance.
Despite the ban, organiser Hong Kong Alliance for Democracy in China expect a large turnout of people to mark the June 4 anniversary, though in small rather than big groups, like last year. The Alliance and online forums have called on people to light a candle at 8 pm on June 4 – which cannot be against the law – to remember those who lost their lives in an episode that remains taboo in China.
Tens of thousands defied that ban and rallied peacefully at the vigil in Victoria Park last year.
Hong Kong currently bans more than 4 people gathering in public under anti-coronavirus measures, making it all but impossible to get permission for protests.
In the last month the city has only registered a few local infections with unknown sources.
The draconian national security law imposed by Beijing last June 30, along with coronavirus restrictions, has virtually halted protests in Hong Kong after months of demonstrations and civic unrest in 2019.
Last week, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that the return of large-scale arts events showed “Hong Kong’s gradual return to normality” as nearly 30,000 attended Art Basel Hong Kong last week. Meanwhile, a large-scale music festival is set to take place in mid-June at the government’s West Kowloon Cultural District.