Hong Kong police searched and arrested dozens of people on Sunday as part of heightened security operations to prevent people from marking the 34th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.
Commemorations are expected this Sunday in at least 30 cities around the world, in Taipei, capital of Taiwan, London, New York, Sydney or Berlin. But in Hong Kong, authorities are seeking to stifle any movement that could awaken the "umbrella revolt," which led hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets in 2019 in the former British colony returned to China.
Only pro-Beijing groups were allowed to hold a food carnival in part of Victoria Park, which is under the surveillance of hundreds of police officers. For years, tens of thousands of people have gathered every year in this park to remember the 241 dead, according to Beijing, nearly 10,000 according to NGOs, made by the repression of the Chinese regime.
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In a statement, police said four people were arrested on Sunday for seditious intent and four others were detained for "disturbing public order" near Victoria Park.
Alexandra Wong, a 67-year-old prominent figure in the pro-democracy movement, better known as "Granny Wong", was arrested in the late afternoon. The police surrounded her, Alexandra Wong followed the police without resisting, brandishing her bouquet of flowers in the air.
6,000 police officers
Another woman was arrested after shouting "Raise candles! Cry 4-6! ", referring to 4 June 1989. Dressed in black, a young man was carrying the book from the play "May 35" at the time of his arrest, another way of referring to the Tiananmen events that took place four days after May 31.
Hong Kong activist Chow Hang-tung, one of the leaders of a group called The Alliance, which held the annual June 4 vigils in Hong Kong before being dissolved in 2021, and who is in detention, said on Facebook that she was going on a 34-hour hunger strike.
According to local media, security has been significantly tightened across Hong Kong this year, with the deployment of nearly 6,000 police officers, including riot control and anti-terrorism officers. Senior officials called on people to abide by the law, but declined to say whether commemoration activities were prohibited under the controversial national security law China imposed on Hong Kong in 2020.
In Beijing, a crowded square
In Taiwan, the only region in the Chinese-speaking world where the anniversary can be celebrated freely, activists have prepared a memorial in Taipei's Freedom Square, complete with mourning flowers and a statue of the "Pillar of Shame." Vice President William Lai, the Democratic Progressive Party's candidate in next January's presidential election, wrote on his Facebook page that what happened in Beijing in 1989 should be discussed and recalled. "The June 4 commemoration event continued to be held in Taipei, which shows that democracy and authoritarianism are the biggest differences between Taiwan and China," he said.
In Sydney, dozens of protesters gathered outside City Hall, chanting "Free Hong Kong," while waving yellow umbrellas and placards in remembrance of 1989. In Beijing, Tiananmen Square was crowded with tourists taking photos under the watchful eye of police and other personnel, but with no obvious sign of increased security. In China, the Tiananmen Square events are taboo, rarely mentioned.