06/04/2020, 10.27
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Tiananmen in Hong Kong: masses, candles, groups, oppose 3 thousand riot police

by Paul Wang

In seven churches there will be liturgical celebrations for the Tiananmen massacres, organized by the Justice and Peace Commission. The auxiliary bishop Msgr. Joseph Ha will preside over Mass at Holy Cross church. Everyone is invited to light a candle at 8 o'clock tonight. The police force wants to clear Victoria Park where democratic activists will gather in groups of eight in accordance with the restrictions imposed by the anti-pandemic rules. Last night, a candlelight Tiananmen memorial vigil in front of Lai Chi Kok prison, where many of those arrested in recent months have been detained.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Masses in memory of the killed, candles commemorating the massacre across the territory, demonstration in groups of eight - as required by the anti-pandemic restrictions - are some of the gestures that the population of Hong Kong has devised to remember the deaths of Tiananmen Square 31 years after the tragic event.

On the night between June 3 and 4, the Chinese army tanks and soldiers cleared the square, occupied by a few thousand young demonstrators, shooting them dead or crushing them under the wheels of the tanks. Young people, students and workers had been sitting in the square for months asking for democracy and an end to corruption.

According to independent organizations, 200 to 2,000 young people were killed that night. The Chinese government have never published a death toll. Moreover it has shrouded the massacre with silence: anyone in China dares to remember that event even in the distant past, is slammed with censorship and prison.

In at least seven churches in the area there will be liturgical celebrations in memory of the massacred (Holy Cross Church, St Bonaventure Church, St Francis of Assisi Church, Holy Redeemer Church, Saints Cosmas and Damian Church, St Benedict Church, St Andrew's Church).

The masses are prepared by the diocesan justice and peace commission. Yesterday evening, the auxiliary bishop of the diocese, Msgr. Joseph Ha held a meditation in memory of Tiananmen, broadcast on Facebook. Tonight he will preside over Mass at Holy Cross church.

The whole population is invited at 8 pm tonight to light a candle wherever they are. There are groups that have planned to light candles in some public places in the city.

All commemoration events will be streamed and already in these days there are documentaries, suggestions, tools to remember Tiananmen, from observing a minute of silence, to listening to songs that enhance freedom.

All these gestures are also the way in which we try to escape the ban on holding the candlelight vigil that has been celebrated in Victoria Park for 30 years, gathering up to 180 thousand participants.

Officially, the ban on holding the vigil has been due to "health" reasons, any gathering with more than 8 people being prohibited. But for the organizers of the vigil - the Alliance in support of China's patriotic and democratic movements - it is clear that this is an excuse to try to erase the memory of the massacre, in accordance with Beijing's wishes. Especially since last week the Chinese parliament voted for a law to be imposed on the population of Hong Kong which in the name of security will be able to suppress civil liberties.

At least 3 thousand riot police officers have been hired to stop attempts at demonstrations. They have the task of driving people out of Victoria Park who, despite being gathered in groups of eight, will be considered by the police as a single group, which violates the law.

Organizers and lawyers accuse the police of repressively interpreting the law and say they are ready to pay the expected fine. Violating social distancing results in a fine of 2,000 Hong Kong dollars (about 230 euros) per participant and 25,000 dollars (about 2878 euros) and six months in prison for the organizers.

The demand for democracy that arose from Chinese youth 31 years ago is keenly felt in continuity with the demonstrations for democracy that have been taking place in the territory for a year, after the government's attempt to pass an extradition law. Last night, a group of activists celebrated a candlelit commemoration of Tiananmen in front of Lai Chi Kok prison, where many of those arrested in recent months have been detained (photo 1).

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