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Hong Kong silences any attempt to mark 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre

14 June 2024


A resident in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, is detained by Police last week on the 35th anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre

A resident in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, is detained by Police last week on the 35th anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre

COMMEMORATIONS of the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre were abandoned in Hong Kong last week, as the National Security Law continued to suppress all protests.

China has long brutally suppressed any marking of the anniversary on the mainland, but that repression has now spread to Hong Kong, as had increasing restrictions on freedom of religion, charities warned.

Hundreds of protesters were killed on 4 June 1989, when police and armoured vehicles opened fire on a student-led democracy protest in the Square. All mention of the event is now taboo in China.

In Hong Kong, the Saturday before last, a Christian weekly newspaper published a blank front page in its latest edition in protest at the suppression of freedom of speech.

The weekly Christian Times wrote that it “can only respond to the current situation by turning paragraphs into blank squares and white space”, going on to say that society had become “restrictive”.

A vigil was also cancelled for the third year running by the Roman Catholic diocese of Hong Kong. Instead, it held a service at the end of May to pray for the Catholic Church in China, and the people of China, it said.

The RC Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Stephen Chow, wrote a prayer, published in the diocesan newspaper, calling for forgiveness in the run-up to the anniversary. “What happened 35 years ago has left a deep wound in parts of our psyche, though it has been buried and scarred over. . .

“However, this does not mean I can forget what I saw and felt ever so deeply on that night and the following weeks. Even though my memories are no longer vivid, my heart has feelings that remain alive, particularly around this time of the year,” he wrote.

“My faith, nonetheless, prompts me to forgive whoever and whatever. Maybe it is through forgiveness that the different parties can move beyond finger pointing and the painful ‘I will never forgive’ mindset. With forgiveness already available, reconciliation and healing may stand a better chance of becoming a reality,” he said.

A carnival organised by pro-Beijing groups was held last week in a park that, for decades, was the site of a huge candlelit vigil marking the anniversary. Police officers were out in force.

The Associated Press reported that an elderly man was seen being taken away after holding up two handwritten posters. One read: “Remember 89! Mourn 64.”

Release International, which monitors Christian persecution, said that persecution in China is at its worst since the Cultural Revolution, and is spreading to Hong Kong.

New legislation passed in March could force Catholic priests to reveal any disclosures about “crimes of treason” shared in confession, it warned.

Bob Fu, who was a protester at Tiananmen and is a partner of Release International said: “For Catholics, this is supposed to guarantee absolute confidentiality between the priest and the confessor. If priests are forced to violate that, China will go down a very dangerous path towards persecution.”

A Protestant pastor, Garry Pang Moon-yuen, became the first Hong Kong clergyman to be convicted under the recent National Security Law. He was imprisoned in 2022 after being accused of preaching sedition.

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