Beijing cancels annual Hong Kong rally to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre

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The Chinese Communist Party is preparing to end its last public event in the territory controlled by Beijing to commemorate Tiananmen Square Massacre ——This goal has exceeded three years.

The annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong usually attracts thousands of people to remember those killed in Beijing on June 4, 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army suppressed the pro-democracy demonstrators and their supporters in the Chinese capital. protest activity.

in spite of Last year’s vigil As Hong Kong is fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong police banned this activity on public health reasons, but under the watchful eyes of the police, thousands of people still gathered to light candles.

Gatherings scheduled for Friday this year were also banned due to the pandemic. But activists believe that Hong Kong people are unlikely to engage in large-scale resistance after the ban is enforced. National Security Law Last year, it included severe penalties for subversion and other crimes against the country.

The vigil held since 1990 is regarded as a high symbol of Hong Kong’s freedom, showing the city’s independent spirit to the rest of the world. It has become one of the most important annual events of pro-democracy groups, with families participating in lighting candles and singing.

Many people believe that even after the pandemic subsides, the security law will not be able to hold any commemorative events in the future.

Pei Minxin, a China expert at Claremont McKenna College in California, said: “Through this step, Hong Kong is getting closer and closer to becoming another Chinese city.” “This year, they can hide behind the pandemic. Next year, they will Use another excuse.”

A mainland scholar who advises Beijing on Hong Kong policy issues said that the Chinese government can no longer tolerate this kind of vigil.

The person familiar with the matter said: “The gathering has a political purpose and violates the national security law that prohibits subversion of state power.” “This is not a simple gathering.”

He said that China must remain vigilant to prevent the conference from causing “political turmoil.”

Dozens of activists and some people who participated in the Hong Kong democracy protests Two years ago -And the vigil that was banned last year-jailed for participating in or organizing unauthorized protests. Many of them are also awaiting trial for allegedly violating the National Security Act, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Claudia Mo’s recent bail application, she is one of the 47 defendants in the class action Subversion trial, Was rejected after the prosecutor pointed out that she was interviewed by Western media. The prosecutor cited WhatsApp messages and television interviews, and she said that the national security law had brought “political chill” to the territory.

Zhou Hengdong, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance for the Patriotic and Democratic Movement in China, left. Supporters of her group opened a street stall last month to commemorate the June 4th massacre © Bloomberg

Despite this, many Hong Kong residents still light candles in private on the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident this year.

Li Zhuoren, a veteran democracy activist and vigil organizer who was imprisoned for his role in the 2019 protests, told friends that he would send a smoke signal from a lit cigarette in his cell.

“June 4 symbolizes the freedom of Hong Kong,” said Zhou Hengdong, vice chairman and barrister of the Hong Kong Alliance for the Patriotic and Democratic Movement, which organized the vigil. “Nowadays, the risk of any form of political participation is very high. [the authorities] Use fear to control people. “

But she added that “the strength accumulated in everyone’s body for 32 years is not so easy to step on.”

Zhou said the government is still using the pandemic as an excuse, rather than banning commemorative events on the grounds of national security, because “the backlash will be huge.”

Richard Tsoi, another member of the alliance, believes that although this year’s monument “may be less conspicuous, we can retain our strength and [hopefully] Have the ability to mourn it in the future”.

Lin Weili, an expert on China at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said he expects a small number of mourners to appear, although the government’s “tough tactics” and threats of imprisonment may prevent most from attending.

Many pro-Beijing people in Hong Kong believe that the coalition’s goal of “ending the one-party dictatorship” in China violates the National Security Law.

“I don’t agree that people use this event to promote a disruptive agenda,” said Ronny Tong, an adviser to the organization. Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Ye Jiana, another pro-Beijing politician, said that the event was used as a “big stick against China.”

However, others in the Hong Kong establishment worry that the Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor government has gone too far in trying to satisfy Beijing.

More extensive efforts are underway to modify the way Hong Kong and Chinese history are taught in the region. The school curriculum is being rewritten, and a local museum was temporarily closed on Wednesday night after officials accused it of violating local laws around June 4.

“The situation is getting worse,” said a senior member of the pro-Beijing political camp in the region, who believes the repression is excessive. “Beijing can’t even tolerate a voice of dissent.”

Additional reporting by Xinning Liu in Beijing

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