Hong Kong Police Block June 4 Vigils on Tiananmen Crackdown Anniversary

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “Hong Kong Police Block June 4 Vigils on Tiananmen Crackdown Anniversary” – below is their description.

    Police cordon off an area in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay district where an annual June 4 vigil is usually held. Thousands of police have been deployed on the anniversary of China’s 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.

    Hong Kong activists planned private vigils and religious services to commemorate China’s deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, as a prominent organizer was arrested and thousands of police were deployed to prevent any mass protests.

    Democracy proponents urged supporters to mark the event in any way they could, including turning on their lights at 8 p.m., after the government banned an annual vigil, citing coronavirus concerns. Police planned to deploy 7,000 personnel around the city on Friday to enforce bans on gathering, including 3,000 to lock down the traditional vigil site at Victoria Park, local media including Radio Television Hong Kong reported.

    Chow Hang Tung, who was an organizer of the vigil before police denied it a permit last week, was arrested on suspicion of promoting an unauthorized assembly, broadcaster TVB reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Richard Tsoi, the secretary of Chow’s group, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, said they were trying to confirm the report.

    While the police wouldn’t confirm the number of officers, a spokesperson said that staffing would be sufficient to “quickly and decisively” enforce the law. “The police appeal to the public not to participate in, advertise or publicize any unauthorized assembly or prohibited group gathering, and to avoid gathering to reduce the risk of virus spread,” the spokesperson said.

    While democracy advocates have accused the government of using coronavirus measures that cap gatherings at four people to limit their rights to free speech and assembly, many are planning low-key commemorations to avoid arrest. Hong Kong authorities have increasingly refused permits for protests since a wave of unrest in 2019, threatening those who participate with jail time, even after weeks of near-zero infections.

    The decision to ban the peaceful Tiananmen vigil for the second straight year has been seen by democracy proponents as confirmation that China has rolled back the freedoms it once allowed in the former British colony. The gathering in Victoria Park, in which as many as 180,000 people held candles and listened to speeches calling for greater democracy, has become an enduring symbol of Hong Kong’s tolerance of political dissent.

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