“It was a period of hope,” said Lee Chok Yan, a veteran activist and former legislator in Hong Kong. At the time, the city was out of eight years from being handed over from British control to Chinese control, and it was felt that young protesters across the border could change China for the better.
“For many Hong Kong residents, we felt that the year 1997 was already hanging over our heads. But the young people in China were calling for democracy, and we thought that if they succeeded in that, then that meant that Hong Kong would not have to live under an authoritarian regime.”
However, this hope became desperate, as the People’s Liberation Army crushed the protests on June 4. No official death toll has been announced, but rights groups estimate that hundreds, if not thousands, have been killed. Tiananmen protests and the crackdown were wiped out from history books in China, censored and controlled, the organizers were either exiled or arrested, and the relatives of the deceased were kept under strict observation.
On Monday, police refused permission to march this year, citing continued restrictions on mass rallies related to the coronavirus. For many in the democratic opposition, justification rings are hollow: the organizers said they will work with the authorities to ensure a safe and socially remote march, and at the same time, the city’s shopping areas, subways, and parks have been open since the weeks of the case.
Speaking to reporters after the announcement of the ban, he told me that the police “suppress our vigilance on the pretext of implementing the ban on gathering.”
The decision made by the police is overweight, as many have already feared this week It might be the last chance
To freely celebrate the anniversary. Last month, China announced it would impose a strict national security law on Hong Kong, in response to widespread and often violent unrest against the government last year.
The law criminalizes separation, sedition and sabotage. It also allows Chinese security services to operate in Hong Kong for the first time – which leads to fears among many in the city that PLA members could deploy on the streets if protests resume.
The Hong Kong Alliance to Support National Democratic Movements in China, the group founded by Lee and who organized the vigil in Tiananmen every year since 1990, Warn that it can be banned
Under the new law, referring to its previous support for activists convicted under similar national security laws in China and the long-standing opposition to “one-party dictatorship”.
There is good reason to believe that a vigil may be blocked in the future. Last month, CY Long, the city’s former chief executive officer and a high-ranking member of an advisory body to the Chinese government, Foretold equally
, While there is a memory in neighboring Macau – which already has a National Security Law on the books – as well It was banned by the authorities
A historical moment
Tiananmen has had an indelible influence on Hong Kong’s policies. Solidarity marches were organized with pro-democracy demonstrators before the massacre, and many activists traveled to the north of the city to provide assistance and support.
After oppressionOperation Yellow Bird
“Help smuggled protest organizers in Beijing and others facing the risk of arrest into the city, which was still at the time British territory. About 500 people were removed from China, according to the Hong Kong Alliance, including student protest leaders such as Wu’er Kaixi” , Who are well-known, Chinese Premier Li Peng discussed at the height of the demonstrations.
In the years following the crackdown, pressure increased on the British to do more to protect Hong Kong under imminent Chinese rule, and in 1994 Governor Chris Patten held a fully-fledged City Parliament election for the first time – a move that London had not agreed to and was met with rage in Beijing.
In the following year, the elected Legislative Council was the first and only time that Parliament won a majority in favor of democracy. It was solved Has been replaced
By an appointed authority from Beijing as soon as the Chinese took control of the city.
In the eight years after Tiananmen, hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents moved abroad, although many returned shortly after the handover after a frightening repression failed and the city enjoyed economic prosperity under its new rulers. Most of these returnees came with foreign passports in their back pockets, but were ready to flee again if things took a negative turn.
Thanks to the new National Security Law, there may be renewed displacement on the horizon. After the announcement of China, the United Kingdom moved to Some rights expanded
For holders of British national passports (overseas), of which there are approximately 300,000 in Hong Kong and up to 3 million citizens born in the city before 1997 are eligible to apply. London said if the law were to move forward, BNO holders would be granted a 12-month period in the UK, up from 6 months, giving them a possible pathway to obtaining British citizenship.
what happened after that?
In two decades of Chinese rule, the Tiananmen Monument has always been something characteristic of Hong Kong, and it is a tight test to see if the city’s freedoms and autonomy are still protected.
It has also served as an incubator for the types of political talent, and is often among the first demonstrations attended by many Hong Kong residents. Several activists, including former parachute movement leaders Nathan Lu and Joshua Wong, talked about the impact of the June 4 monument on their own political awakening.
Last year, city leader, Carey Lam, pointing to
In the annual march as evidence that “Hong Kong is a very free society.”
“If there are public gatherings to express their views and feelings about a particular historical event, we will fully respect those views,” she said.
Lam was asked this week whether the assembly would be banned under the new national security law, and Lam said, “We don’t have a draft law at the moment. We can deal with it at a later time.”
Hong Kong officials have insisted that concerns about the legislation are overrated, and that new crimes of discord, sabotage, and separation will only apply to a handful of people, even when they admit they are also in a state of ambiguity about Beijing’s plans.
In a statement on the law last week, the Hong Kong alliance warned that it “looked like a knife in the neck of all Hong Kong residents.”
“Even if it cuts only a few, it threatens the freedom of all seven million,” the group said. “It is the application of the judgment of fear in Hong Kong.”
For the time being, they are still challenging this fear, even as coronary virus restrictions have frustrated their collective march plans. Smaller gatherings would be held throughout the city, as did the alliance Called the whole population
To light candles at 8 pm, and carry them outside their windows to recreate a sea of light that has become a common image of the annual celebration in Victoria Park.
“Will Hong Kong people be able to watch over the next year? An eternal year in politics and dangerous forecasts,” wrote Chinese scholar Jerome Cohen. this week
. “However, unless there is an unexpected change in leadership in Beijing, it certainly seems likely, especially in light of the upcoming (National Security Law), that Hong Kong will follow Macau in succumbing to the long-lost memory loss imposed on the mainland.” . “
Chermaine Lee, a CNN reporter, contributed to the reporting.