Hong Kong police have arrested multiple pro-democracy activists, including 67-year-old Alexandra Wong, during the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Public commemorations of the tragedy have been banned, although candlelight vigils have taken place in other cities globally. Despite the ban, several individuals were detained in Hong Kong, including the leader of a major opposition party and a former head of the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
For years, Hong Kong was the only Chinese city where commemorations of the massacre were permitted under the “one country, two systems” arrangement. However, the Chinese government imposed a strict national security law in 2020, effectively outlawing many forms of dissent. Consequently, public events marking the anniversary have been banned since 2019, initially under Hong Kong’s Covid regulations. This year, a pro-Beijing carnival is taking place in Victoria Park instead.
Police deployed thousands of officers across the city, stopping and questioning people while searching them. Armoured vehicles were stationed in key areas as a show of force. In anticipation of protests, the city’s government also removed books on the Tiananmen crackdown from public libraries.
Candlelight vigils were held worldwide on Sunday to remember those killed by the Chinese military in response to the crackdown. In Taiwan, hundreds of people gathered to mark the anniversary, chanting “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” and setting up a replica of the “Pillar of Shame” statue that was removed in 2021.
The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing called for greater political freedoms, with thousands of people, mostly students, camping in the square for weeks before the military opened fire on June 4. The Chinese government claims that 200 civilians and several dozen security personnel died, while other estimates range from hundreds to as many as 10,000. The arrests in Hong Kong are seen by activists as part of China’s broader agenda to suppress political dissent in the city.
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