Hong Kong: Tiananmen vigil crackdown another cynical attempt to curb peaceful dissent

Responding to today’s targeting of nine more activists in connection with Hong Kong’s June Fourth Tiananmen vigil, in addition to four arrests carried out yesterday, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong Man-Kei Tam said:

“The targeting of is the latest assault on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the city. With China's Orwellian national security law coming, the Hong Kong authorities appear emboldened to ramp up repression of critical voices.

“The June Fourth vigil is a moment for people in Hong Kong to remember those killed in the Tiananmen crackdown 31 years ago, and for the authorities to use this peaceful event as a means of targeting critics is sickening.

“A year to the day after Hong Kong Police infamously targeted protesters with excessive force during mass demonstrations, the crackdown on Hong Kong’s freedoms is unrelenting.

“But as shown by those who peacefully took to the streets today to mark the 12 June anniversary, people will continue to peacefully advocate for those freedoms and will not be cowed by repression.”

Background

Between 11 and 12 June, police informed 13 individuals that they will receive a summons to appear in court in late June for “inciting” others to take part in unauthorized assemblies on 4 June.

Ten of those targeted are members of the HK Alliance, which has organized the annual vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown.

Last week, Hong Kong police banned the vigil for the first time in 30 years, citing COVID-19 measures. The ban did not stop thousands from convening in the park, and even more holding smaller events elsewhere.

The 13 people targeted include the chairperson of Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (HK Alliance) Lee Cheuk-yan; vice-chairpersons Albert Ho Chun-yan and Chow Hang-tung; secretary Richard Tsoi; core members Cheung Man-kwong, Mak Hoi-wah, Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Chiu Yan-loi, Leung Yiu-chung and Leung Kam-wai; vice president of the Labour Party Steven Kwok Wing-kin; vice convenor of the NGO Civil Human Rights Front Figo Chan Ho-wun; and founder of media group Next Digital Jimmy Lai.

On the evening of 3–4 June, 1989 in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, hundreds – possibly thousands – of people were killed when troops opened fire on students and workers who had been peacefully calling for political and economic reforms as well as an end to corruption. No one knows the exact number of fatalities since the Chinese authorities have stifled and censored discussion of the crackdown for the past three decades.