Commemorations in Hong Kong of the Tiananmen Square massacre have largely been snuffed out, as authorities seek to crush observance of the crackdown on student protesters in a city that has typically held the biggest annual vigil on Chinese soil.
The anniversary is one of the most sensitive events for Chinese authorities, with discussion of the demonstrations censored on the mainland and survivors or victims’ families routinely detained or interrogated.
Hong Kong hosted the world’s largest yearly commemoration every June 4 until it was banned in 2020, a year after pro-democracy protests engulfed the Chinese territory. Authorities subsequently suppressed opposition and Beijing extended its control of the quasi-autonomous city.
Officials said the ban two years ago was to control the coronavirus pandemic but critics accused the government of using the health crisis as a pretext for stifling dissent.
Leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the group which traditionally organised the vigil, have been arrested and many are in jail. Chow Hang-tung, one of the jailed organisers, often uses her court appearances to evoke memories of the massacre.
Authorities have closed Victoria Park this year, where tens of thousands of residents typically light candles to commemorate the event, from Friday night until early Sunday morning.
Police monitored the area after a small number of artists performed near the park on Friday and were quickly ushered away or taken for questioning.
Some residents found subtle ways to commemorate the massacre.
The Catholic church has marked the event in special masses for more than three decades but has been stung by the arrest of Cardinal Zen, its former top cleric, last month. He was accused of failing to register a fund set up to help pay the legal and medical fees of participants in the 2019 protests. Cardinal Zen has denied the charges.
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