Tiananmen Square massacre: Hong Kong perhaps celebrates its last anniversary

“It was a time of hope,” said Lee Cheuk-yan, a retired activist and ex-Hong Kong lawmaker. It was eight years since the city was handed over from the British to Chinese control, and there was a feeling that the young protesters at the border could change China for the better.

“For many Hong Kongers, we felt that 1997 really hung above our heads. But young people in China wanted democracy, and if they did, we meant that Hong Kong wouldn’t have to live under an authoritarian regime.”

However, this hope was despaired as the People’s Liberation Army crushed the protests on June 4. Tiananmen protests and repression were deleted from the history books in China, censored and taken under control, the organizers were exiled or arrested, and the relatives of the deceased were kept under strict surveillance.

On Monday, the police refused to allow for this year’s rally and due to continued restrictions in mass meetings related to the coronavirus pandemic. The rationale for many people in the democratic opposition is diminishing: the organizers said they will work with the authorities to ensure a safe and socially remote rally, while the city’s shopping districts, subway and public parks are barely open for weeks. subject.

Speaking to reporters after the announcement of the ban, Lee said the police “suppressed our watch on the pretext of enforcing the ban on assembly”.

The decision of the police carries extra weight this week, as many feared already could be the last opportunity to mark the anniversary freely. Last month, China announced it will introduce a national security law in Hong Kong last year in response to widespread and often violent anti-government unrest.

The law deems separation, rebellion and destruction as a crime. It also allows Chinese security services to work for the first time in Hong Kong – raising concerns among many in the city that PLA members can be placed on the streets.

Hongan, Lee’s group, which has been organizing the Tiananmen watch every year since 1990, is the Hong Kong Alliance to Support Patriotic Democratic Movements, warns that it may be banned Under the new law, it shows earlier support for convicted activists under similar national security laws in China and long opposition to the “one-party dictatorship”.
There is a good reason to believe that Vigil may be banned in the future. Last month, CY Leung, the city’s former chairman and senior member of a Chinese government advisory body, estimatedat a memorial ceremony in neighboring Macao – already with national security law on books blocked by the authorities.

Historic moment

Tiananmen had an indelible influence on Hong Kong’s politics. Before the massacre, rallies were held with pro-democracy demonstrators, and many activists in the city went north to offer help and support.

After printing, “Yellow Bird Operation“Beijing helped to abduct protesters and protesters who were at risk of catching the city, which was still a British territory at the time. According to the Hong Kong Alliance, around 500 people were removed from China, including student protest leaders such as the famous Wu’er Kaixi, Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng ‘ i discussed at the peak of the shows.
In the years after the squeeze, under the upcoming Chinese administration, the British were pressured to do more to protect Hong Kong, and in 1994 Governor Chris Patten made the city parliament completely democratic elections for the first time – a non-action approved by London and anger in Beijing met with.
The Legislative Council, elected the following year, was the first and only time when parliament had a pro-democratic majority. Disbanded and changed By an organ appointed by Beijing as soon as China’s control over the city comes into force.

In the eight years after Tiananmen, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers moved to overseas, but returned shortly after many were abandoned after a feared pressure and an economic boom under the city’s new rulers. Most returnees came with foreign passports in their back pocket, but are ready to escape again when things change negatively.

Thanks to the new national security law, a renewed migration may be on the horizon. Britain after China’s announcement expand some rights It was entitled to apply for British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong, with around 300,000 and up to 3 million citizens born in the city before 1997. London said that if the law continues, BNO holders will be granted 12 months of stay in the UK from 6 months and will give them a potential path to British citizenship.

What happens next?

In the twenty years of Chinese rule, the Tiananmen monument was always something that distinguished Hong Kong, a litmus test of whether the city’s freedoms and autonomy were still preserved.

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It also served as an incubator for political talents, amongst the first demonstrations in which Hong Konger participated. Many activists, including former Umbrella Movement leaders Nathan Law and Joshua Wong, talked about the impact of the June 4 memorial on their political awakenings.

Last year, the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, It has been marked “Hong Kong is a very free society.”

“If there are public meetings to express their views and feelings about a particular historical event, we fully respect those views,” he said.

Asked whether to ban banning under the new national security law this week, Lam said, “We don’t have the current law. We can handle this later.”

Hong Kong officials insisted that concerns over legislation were exaggerated and insisted that new crimes of uprising, destruction and separation would only apply a small handful of people, although they admit that they were largely in the dark in Beijing plans.

In a statement on the law last week, the Hong Kong Alliance warned “like a knife around the neck of all Hong Kong people”.

“Even if only a few cut it, it threatens the freedom of all 7 million,” he said. “This is fear enforcement in Hong Kong.”

For now, even if coronavirus restrictions fail for a mass rally, they still challenge this fear. Smaller meetings will be held throughout the city and the Alliance called all residents At 8 o’clock, he keeps the light sea outside his windows to recreate the sea of ​​light, which has become a common image of the annual guard in Victoria Park.
“Will Hong Kongers hold the watch next year? One year politics eternity and predictions are dangerous,” the Chinese scientist Jerome Cohen wrote. this week. “Still, it seems likely that Hong Kong will be able to follow Macao for a long time by succumbing to the mainland amnesia, especially in light of the future (national security law), unless there is an unexpected change in leadership in Beijing.”

CNN’s Chermaine Lee contributed to reporting.

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