Hong Kong Bans Annual Tiananmen Square Vigil

Organizers say they planned to maintain social distancing at June 4 event
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2020 1:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – Police in Hong Kong have banned the annual candelit vigil in memory of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre—and organizers fear it will never be allowed again. In 1990, an estimated 180,000 people attended the vigil in Victoria Park to mark the first anniversary of the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. The vigil became an annual event, even after the 1997 handover, when Hong Kong became the only place in China where the crackdown was commemorated. Police said the mass event is not being allowed due to coronavirus concerns, although organizers said attendees could come to the park in groups of eight, as allowed under current regulations, and maintain social distancing, the BBC reports.

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China is finalizing details of a strict new "national security law" for Hong Kong, and activists fear the ban on "subversion" will be broad enough to include the vigil next year and beyond. Exiled 1989 student leader Zhou Fengsuo says he hopes commemorative events being held online will teach young people on the mainland more about the events of June 4, reports RTHK. He says China's silencing of a doctor who tried to raise the alarm about the coronavirus shows the importance of freedom of speech. "Freedom of speech was one of the demands in the '89 student movement, and the pandemic spreading from Wuhan to the rest of the world was a man-made disaster resulting from China’s authoritarian rule, the lack of freedom of speech, and the government’s attempt to maintain social stability above all," he says. (Read more Hong Kong stories.)

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