Hong Kong Police Cracks Down On Tiananmen Square Remembrance Vigil, Arrests Organizer
Hong Kong police on Friday moved to crackdown on vigils in the city commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and arrested an organizer of the annual gathering, in what is being seen as part of Beijing’s continued crackdown on dissidents and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.
Chow Hang Tung, the vice-chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China—a pro-democracy organization—was arrested by Hong Kong police on Friday morning at around 7.45 am.
According to the South China Morning Post, Chow was detained for allegedly advertising or publicizing a prohibited public assembly.
The vigil, which used to be an annual occurrence, has been banned for the second year in a row by authorities under Covid-19 social distancing rules.
Apart from Chow, police have also arrested a 20-year-old food delivery man for the same offense.
A week before her arrest Chow told Reuters in an interview that June 4 was a test for Hong Kong “of whether we can defend our bottom line of morality.” Adding: “As long as they haven’t said candles are illegal, we will light a candle.” In a Facebook post cited by South China Morning Post Chow wrote that at 8 o’clock on June 4 she will “keep this promise that I’ve been keeping for 32 years and light a candle at a place where everyone can see.”
The crackdown on the Tiananmen Square vigils by authorities in the past two years is a major departure for Hong Kong, whose residents used to have more freedom and those in mainland China. But the moves are part of Beijing’s increasing attempts to exert more control on the city and clamp down on dissidents. In an effort to exert more control on Hong Kong, Beijing imposed a new national security law last year that gave the city’s authorities sweeping powers to target political dissidents, and established secret police and a national security council to oversee its implementation. Lee Cheuk-yan, a former Hong Kong lawmaker and the leader of the pro-democratic organization where Chow served as vice-chairperson, is currently serving a 12-month prison sentence for his role in organizing past vigils. Several other dissidents including 82-year-old former lawmaker Martin Lee—often called Hong Kong’s “father of democracy—and media tycoon Jimmy Lai have also been handed jail sentences in the past few months.