Hong Kong locks down Tiananmen vigil park amid tight safety, arrests organiser By Reuters

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© Reuters. Cops patrol in Tiananmen Sq. in Beijing, China, June 3, 2021. Image shot via a window. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

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By Clare Jim and Scott Murdoch

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Police blocked off a Hong Kong park to forestall individuals gathering to commemorate the anniversary of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Sq. crackdown on Friday and arrested the deliberate vigil’s organiser.

The ban on the vigil got here amid rising concern within the pro-democracy motion and internationally in regards to the suppression of the semi-autonomous metropolis’s conventional freedoms, notably a nationwide safety legislation imposed by Beijing final 12 months.

The annual June 4 vigil is normally held within the former British colony’s Victoria Park, with individuals gathering to gentle candles for the pro-democracy demonstrators killed by Chinese language troops in Beijing 32 years in the past.

This 12 months, with hundreds of police deployed throughout town, some marked the anniversary in church buildings or at house amid fears of being arrested.

Within the working class district of Mong Kok, minor scuffles broke out and police arrested one particular person. As evening fell, police cleared individuals from round Victoria Park as they walked with their cellphone lights on. Police stated no less than six individuals had been arrested on Friday aged between 20 and 75.

“Having the ability to have a reminiscence is a fundamental human proper. Taking that away is past anybody’s authority,” District Councillor Derek Chu advised Reuters. “We have to keep in mind these individuals who have been sacrificed for democracy up to now.”

Early on Friday, police arrested Chow Dangle Tung, vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Help of Patriotic Democratic Actions of China, for selling an unauthorised meeting.

“She solely needed to go to Victoria Park, gentle a candle and commemorate,” Chiu Yan Loy, government member of the Alliance, advised Reuters.

He stated believed her arrest was meant to strike concern into these planning to attend.

Chow advised Reuters earlier this week that June 4 was a take a look at for Hong Kong “of whether or not we will defend our backside line of morality”.

The Alliance’s chairman, Lee Cheuk-yan, is in jail over an unlawful meeting.

Authorities warned of extra arrests and stated that anybody who took half in an unauthorised meeting may withstand 5 years in jail.

Police cordoned off many of the downtown park, together with soccer pitches and basketball courts. In addition they performed stop-and-search checks throughout town, with officers posted at three cross-harbour tunnels.

The heightened vigilance from authorities was a marked departure from Hong Kong’s freedoms of speech and meeting, bringing the worldwide monetary hub nearer in step with mainland China’s strict controls on society, activists say.

Police didn’t say whether or not commemorating Tiananmen would breach the brand new nationwide safety legislation.

“From the underside of my coronary heart, I need to say I imagine Hong Kong continues to be a really secure and free metropolis,” senior superintendent Liauw Ka-kei advised reporters, saying police had no choice however to implement the legislation.

Hong Kong Chief Government Carrie Lam has solely stated that residents should respect the legislation, in addition to the Communist Social gathering, which this 12 months celebrates its one centesimal anniversary. June 4 commemorations are banned in mainland China.

China has by no means offered a full account of the 1989 violence in Beijing’s Tiananmen Sq.. The demise toll given by officers days later was about 300, most of them troopers, however rights teams and witnesses say hundreds of individuals could have perished.

CANDLES AT CHURCHES

At the US consulate and European Union workplace in Hong Kong, candles flickered at home windows all through the buildings. Seven church buildings that organized to carry memorial plenty had been full, in keeping with their Fb (NASDAQ:) pages, with a number of the congregation holding white flowers and lighting candles.

One church on Hong Kong island shortly reached its 30% capability set by coronavirus restrictions and opened up its courtyard to accommodate extra individuals.

Jailed activist Jimmy Sham stated through his Fb web page he deliberate to “gentle a cigarette at 8pm”.

“We don’t see the hope of democracy and freedom in a pacesetter, a gaggle, or a ceremony. Each certainly one of us is the hope of democracy and freedom,” he stated.

Final 12 months, hundreds in Hong Kong defied the ban on marking the Tiananmen anniversary.

Outstanding democracy activist Joshua Wong acquired a 10-month jail sentence final month for collaborating within the 2020 vigil, whereas three others acquired four-to six-month sentences. Twenty extra are due in court docket on June 11 on comparable expenses.

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