33 years later, the commemorative events were censored China. Police were heavily deployed on Saturday and multiplied arrests Hong Kongto avoid any public reminder of the bloody intervention in Tiananmen Square, as rallies were held in honor of the victims in several democracies. AFP reporters have seen police take down at least half a dozen people, including Social Democrats (LSD) activist Yu Wai-pan, a pro-democracy political party in the ranks.
They warned that any participation in “illegal rallies” would be punished by five years in prison. Especially around Victoria Park, which was closed on Saturday and which until 2019 was the scene of gigantic candlelight vigils. memory of Tiananmen. In the evening, many passers-by around the park lit the lamp of their mobile phones and failed to light candles. Police called on the speaker to turn them off and warned them they were breaking the law.
Facial recognition equipment on the streets
On June 4, 1989, the Chinese Communist regime, with the help of tanks and troops, suppressed peaceful demonstrators who occupied the symbolic square in Beijing for weeks to demand political change and an end to systemic corruption. The crushing of the movement caused hundreds of deaths, according to some estimates more than a thousand. Since then, the Chinese authorities have been trying to erase Tiananmen from the collective memory. History textbooks do not mention it, online discussions are systematically censored.
In Beijing, authorities have installed facial recognition devices on the streets leading to the square. Police conducted rigorous identity checks on Saturday. If evocation of the events of 1989 has always been taboo in China, Hong Kong was an exception until 2020. Beijing then imposed draconian national security law on the semi-autonomous region after gigantic pro-democracy demonstrations in 2019 to suppress all dissent. Since then, local authorities have also been working to erase all traces of Tiananmen’s memory.
Black and chrysanthemum t-shirt
On Saturday night, Yu and two other LSD members arrived in the bustling Causeway Bay shopping district and stood silently in masks with crosses over their mouths. They were searched by police and then released, and Yu was arrested a few minutes later as he approached Victoria Park. The former leader of the Hong Kong Alliance, the association that organized the patrols, was surrounded by his agents as he walked through the neighborhood with a bouquet of red and white roses in his hand and his bag was searched.
“The government is very afraid of a possible assembly,” 32-year-old Hong Kong Dorothy told AFP. The end of vigil is a “great loss for society,” he regrets. A Hong Kong woman told AFP that she lit a candle at home and placed a replica of the “goddess of democracy,” a symbol of the Tiananmen movement, on the windowsill.
Notice for consulates
The vigil was banned in 2020 and 2021 in the name of the fight against Covid, then last September the Hong Kong Alliance was disbanded, its museum dismantled on June 4 and its leaders arrested. Ambiguity over what is or is not legal has also prompted six Hong Kong universities in recent months to unscrew the peace monuments erected on their campuses.
On Saturday evening, the windows of the United States Consulate and the European Union (EU) Office were lit by candles. The EU “still stands in solidarity with human rights defenders around the world,” the latter wrote on Twitter (which is blocked in China) and published a photo of dozens of candles on the windowsill.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously paid tribute on Twitter to “brave demonstrators” who “peacefully demanded democracy” in Tiananmen: “Despite the removal of monuments and attempts to erase history, let us honor their memory by promoting respect for human rights everywhere. where they are endangered “.
Carrying the spirit of Tiananmen
In response, a spokesman for the Chinese State Department’s chancellor said he “flatly rejected” the statements. “Their political speeches have interfered in China’s internal affairs under the guise of human rights and freedom and tarnished the human rights and rule of law of Hong Kong in order to incite ‘hostility and confrontation and tarnish China’s image,’” the statement said. Nevertheless, the vigil on Saturday was organized by Amnesty International in 20 cities around the world. In Melbourne, “we want this spirit to live forever,” said Frank Ruan, a former Tiananmen Square protester who said he was lucky to have survived.
In Taipei, Connie Lui, a 65-year-old hospital worker who left Hong Kong a year and a half ago because of the political situation, told AFP that “this is the only place we can come and remember now. I am also here on behalf of all my Hong Kong friends who cannot be present. “The collective memory on June 4 in Hong Kong is being systematically erased,” said Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, “such rude and unreasonable measures cannot erase people’s memory.”