Hong Kong police apprehended almost two dozen citizens for “seditious” activity on the 34th anniversary of the Chinese communist government’s massacre of citizens at Tiananmen Square, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
The Hong Kong Free Press reported that 11 men and 12 women, ages 20 to 74, were detained in an apparent crackdown on Tiananmen Square memorials over the weekend in Hong Kong.
According to a statement released Saturday by the Hong Kong Police Force, four individuals were arrested and four detained for “displaying protest items loaded with seditious wordings, chanting, and committing unlawful acts.”
The arrests were made near Hong Kong’s Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, where highly attended Tiananmen Square memorials have been held in years past.
The memorials recall how on June 4, 1989, the Chinese government quashed a weekslong protest of Chinese citizens by opening fire and sending tanks into Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China’s capital city. There is no official count, but death toll estimates of the massacre range from 200 to 10,000.
Tiananmen Square memorials have long been illegal in mainland China, but the crackdown in Hong Kong is a more recent development.
As a special administrative region of the Chinese government, Hong Kong formerly enjoyed relative autonomy until the Chinese Communist Party began ramping up its control of the region in recent years.
A 2019 Tiananmen Square candlelight memorial in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, drew more than 100,000 participants, according to the Guardian.
In 2020, Hong Kong passed a national security law that has been used to arrest hundreds of protestors and activists and to crack down on the press, according to the BBC.
The following year a famous statue depicting the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre known as the “Pillar of Shame” was removed from the University of Hong Kong by officials.
This year, a section of the park where the memorial commemoration has been held was used as a festival ground while the rest of the park was closed off for “maintenance.” According to the Hong Kong Free Press, the festival is being organized by “pro-Beijing groups.”
Video footage taken Sunday shows an elderly woman holding up flowers and a man holding a copy of a play about the Tiananmen Square massacre being escorted away by police.
The woman has been identified by the Hong Kong Free Press as Alexandra Wong, 67, a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist also known as “Grandmother Wong.”
Activist Alexandra Wong, who’s also known as “Grandma Wong”, is also taken away by the police as she holds flowers high up in the air to mourn the victims of the China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. pic.twitter.com/FiKhvhSZAR
— Jessie Pang (@JessiePang0125) June 4, 2023
Others detained include prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders Tsui Hong-kwong, Leo Tan, and Chan Po-ying.
Also among those apprehended was Lau Ka-yee, a Hong Kong citizen who formerly attended college and graduate school in Taiwan.
The National Taiwan University Graduate Students Association condemned Ka-yee’s detention, saying she had been “arbitrarily” denied her right to peacefully protest.
In response, the Hong Kong Security Bureau strongly denied the Taiwanese association’s claims, accusing it of “disregarding the facts,” “confusing right and wrong,” and “smearing the lawful actions of the police.”
In a June 5 statement, the bureau said it “strongly opposes the unfounded and false accusations made by the National Taiwan University Graduate Students Association against the police’s law enforcement actions on June 4.”
“Hong Kong residents enjoy the rights and freedoms under the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, and other relevant laws,” the bureau added. “However, members of the public must abide by the law, not affect social order, and maintain national security when exercising these freedoms.”
The U.S. and European Union consulates in Hong Kong marked the anniversary by placing candles in their windows.
The U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong issued a statement June 3, saying: “Tomorrow, we observe the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. On June 4, 1989, the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) sent tanks into Tiananmen Square to brutally repress peaceful Chinese pro-democracy protesters and bystanders alike.”
“The victims’ bravery will not be forgotten and continues to inspire advocates for these principles around the world,” the statement continued. “The United States will continue advocating for people’s human rights and fundamental freedoms in China and around the world.”
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