Tiananmen Square: Hong Kong police arrest people on the anniversary of the slaughter
On the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Hong Kong police arrested pro-democracy protestors.
Authorities have prohibited public commemoration of the 1989 tragedy, in which China used tanks and troops to suppress nonviolent protests in Beijing.
Hundreds of candlelight vigils are anticipated to take place in locations around the world, however.
Alexandra Wong, 67, an activist known as “Grandma Wong,” was among those jailed.
She was arrested while bringing flowers near Victoria Park, where vigils have been held for decades, on a tense evening in Hong Kong.
One of Hong Kong’s leading opposition parties’ head has also been seized and placed in a police van.
Chan Po Ying, the League of Social Democrats party’s leader and an experienced pro-democracy activist, was holding an LED candle and two flowers.
Mak Yin Ting, the former head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, is also said to have been arrested.
Events commemorating the 1989 Beijing massacre are prohibited in mainland China.
Previously, Hong Kong was the only Chinese city where these commemorations were permitted, according to the territory’s semi-autonomous economic, political, and legal structure – known as “one country, two systems” – formed when the city was turned over to China by the UK in 1997.
However, public commemorations of the occasion have been prohibited since the Chinese government implemented a draconian national security regulation forbidding various kinds of criticism in 2020.
After being forbidden under Hong Kong’s Covid legislation, the annual commemorations have not been held since 2019.
Instead, a pro-Beijing carnival will be hosted in Victoria Park this year.
Ms Wong was swiftly encircled by police and driven away in the city’s Causeway Bay neighborhood on Sunday.
Since 1990, yearly candlelit vigils in nearby Victoria Park have marked Tiananmen Square, gathering tens of thousands of people to memorialize the day, known as June Fourth throughout much of China.
Hong Kong Police have stationed thousands of police at strategic locations throughout the city, stopping people to search and interview them.
Officers erected up stations outside the Victoria Park metro station to search passers-by, including journalists.
Two Chinese-made “Sabre-tooth Tiger” armoured vehicles have also been stationed in the area, indicating a police show of force.
Prior to the protests, the local officials stated that if they believed people were breaking the law, they would arrest them.
According to reports, cops have detained at least 12 persons, including Ms Wong.
One of those detained was a woman who yelled, “Raise your candles!” Mourn 64!” while another was a man carrying a book with the caption “May 35th” – both references to the 4 June date of the killings.
Four persons were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of disrupting the peace in a public place or acting with seditious intent, both of which are new offenses under the contentious 2020 law.
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On Sunday, dozens of candlelight vigils will be held around the world to mourn individuals who were slain by the Chinese military in response to the crackdown.
Hundreds of people gathered to observe the occasion in Taiwan, the democratic, self-governing island China claims as its own and has pledged to retake by force if necessary.
Crowds chanted “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” in the capital Taipei, where a copy of the “Pillar of Shame” – a famous memorial at the University of Hong Kong remembering the deceased at Tiananmen Square that was dismantled in 2021 – was placed up.
Many participants also hope that the vigils would keep alive the spirit of Hong Kong’s once-vibrant civil society and political community, which has mostly fallen silent as a result of so many being imprisoned under the national security law or having departed the city entirely.
In 1989, the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing became the focal point for nationwide demonstrations demanding more political liberties.
Thousands Chinese protesters, mostly students, camped for weeks in the famed Beijing square before the military stepped in and opened fire on June 4th.
In footage seen across the world, an unidentified demonstrator became an iconic emblem of resistance by halting an advancing column of tanks.
According to the Chinese government, 200 civilians and a few dozen security officers were killed. Other estimates have varied from hundreds to thousands.
Activists regard the authorities’ actions as part of China’s larger plan to suffocate political dissent in Hong Kong.