No vigil or Mass in Hong Kong to remember the Tiananmen massacre on 4 June
Victoria Park will be empty again. The authorities want to erase the memory of the fallen of 4 June 1989 killed by the Chinese government. The organisers of the traditional commemoration are in prison. Even the Catholic Church fears the security law.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – For the third consecutive year, Hong Kong authorities have banned the annual vigil in Victoria Park in memory of the victims of the Tiananmen massacre.
On 4 June 1989, the Chinese government ordered a crackdown against protesters in Beijing who were demanding freedom and democracy in the country, resulting in the slaughter of thousands of students and ordinary citizens.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam made it clear recently that all public meetings must comply with anti-COVID regulations and, above all, the national security law adopted two years ago by the central government to stifle the pro-democracy movement.
As Hong Kong Free Press reports Lam did not clarify which part of the measure prevents people from gathering to remember the fallen in Tiananmen.
Last year, many residents of the former British colony commemorated the 1989 massacre by placing lit candles on their balconies. Others gathered in small groups in different parts of the city.
Hundreds defied the ban and showed up near Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, only to be turned away by the police. Some managed to lit candles outside the park.
Next Saturday, Victoria Park will also be empty because vigil organisers are all in jail or on trial.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the group that traditionally organised the event, was dissolved last September after police targeted it under the national security legislation.
For the first time, the Catholic Church will not celebrate Mass in memory of the Tiananmen dead. The local diocese is concerned that memorial services for the events of 1989 could be punished under the security law.
A year ago, banners appeared in front of seven Catholic churches warning Catholic authorities not to celebrate Mass for Tiananmen. According to the people who put them up, public service in remembrance of the events of June 1989 were contrary to the law.
Still Mass was celebrated in each church. In one of them, Card Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, mentioned the “brothers and sisters” who sacrificed their lives “for our democracy and our freedom”.
Presently, the cardinal is awaiting trial for his role in a charity fund that helped thousands of people involved in the 2019 pro-democracy protests.
However, Catholics have not ruled out action on Saturday. In an attempt to get around the ban, the Ward Memorial Methodist Church in Yau Ma Tei held a prayer on Tuesday in memory of Tiananmen.
Like mainland China, Hong Kong authorities have taken steps to wipe away physical and (virtual) references to what happened in 1989.
Online discussions are tightly controlled, while statues and works of art commemorating the massacre have been removed from public spaces.
The most striking case is that of the “Pillar of Shame”, which was removed after 25 years from the campus of Hong Kong University; however, a replica will be inaugurated on 4 June in Taiwan.
The authorities have also closed the city museum dedicated to the massacre. School textbooks only have vague references to the events of 33 years ago, whilst teachers avoid discussions on the subject for fear of reprisal.
Books on the subject have also disappeared from public libraries, and the public broadcaster RTHK removed images of the slaughter from its archive, Nikkei Asia reports.
Publicly people can only refer to what happened as the “events of 1989”.