Hong Kong police searched and arrested dozens of people on Sunday as part of heightened security operations to prevent people from marking the 34th anniversary of the bloody down in Tian’anmen Square in 1989.
Commemorations are expected this Sunday in at least 30 cities around the world, in Taipei, capital of Taiwan, London, New York, Sydney or Berlin. But in Hong Kong, the authorities are seeking to stifle any movement that could revive the “umbrella revolt”, which had led hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets in 2019 in the former British colony returned to China.
Only pro-Beijing groups were allowed to hold a food carnival in part of Victoria Park, which was guarded by hundreds of police. For years, tens of thousands of people have gathered at this park every year to remember the 241 dead, according to Beijing, nearly 10,000 according to NGOsmade by the repression of the Chinese regime.
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In a statement, police said four people were arrested on Sunday for seditious intent and four others were taken into custody for “threatening public order” near Victoria Park.
67-year-old Alexandra Wong, prominent figure in the pro-democracy movement, better known as “Mamie Wong”, was notably arrested at the end of the afternoon. The police surrounded her, Alexandra Wong followed the police without resisting, brandishing her bouquet of flowers in the air.
Another woman was arrested after shouting “Raise candles!” Cry the 4-6! “, in reference to June 4, 1989. Dressed in black, a young man was carrying the book of the play entitled “May 35” at the time of his arrest, another way of designating the events of Tian’anmen which took place four days after May 31.
Hong Kong activist Chow Hang-tung, one of the leaders of a group called The Alliance, which held annual June 4 vigils in Hong Kong before disbanding in 2021, and who is in detention, said on Facebook that she was going on a 34-hour hunger strike.
According to local media, security has been significantly tightened across Hong Kong this year, with the deployment of nearly 6,000 police, including riot and counter-terrorism officers. Senior officials urged people to obey the law, but declined to clarify whether commemoration activities were banned in light of the controversial national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong in 2020.
In Beijing, a crowded square
In Taiwan, the only region in the Chinese-speaking world where the anniversary can be celebrated freely, activists prepared a memorial in Liberty Square in Taipei, complete with mourning flowers and a statue of the “pillar of shame”. Vice President William Lai, the Democratic Progressive Party candidate for the presidential election next January, wrote on his Facebook page that what happened in Beijing in 1989 should be discussed and remembered. “The event commemorating June 4 continued to be held in Taipei, showing that democracy and authoritarianism are the biggest differences between Taiwan and China,” he said.
In Sydney, dozens of protesters gathered outside City Hall, chanting “Free Hong Kong”, while holding up yellow umbrellas and holding signs in remembrance of 1989. In Beijing, Tian’anmen Square was packed with tourists taking photos under the watchful eye of police and other personnel, but with no obvious signs of increased security. In China, the events in Tian’anmen Square are a taboo, rarely mentioned.