Activists calling for democracy in mainland China flew kites in Sai Kung on Sunday to commemorate the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Around a dozen members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China flew two kites, with “the people will not forget” and “vindicate June 4, justice will prevail” written on them.

Photo: Apple Daily.

Nearly three decades after Beijing’s violent crackdown on student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, the incident remains taboo in mainland China. The Chinese government has never given an official death toll for the crackdown, though it is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands died.

The annual activity is inspired by Beijing student protesters, who flew kites in May 1989 to obstruct military helicopters conducting surveillance from above.

“The political situation is very dire in mainland China under Xi Jinping and his emphasis on national security. We have seen human rights activists being locked up all the time,” said Alliance Vice-chairperson Richard Tsoi.

“The voices commemorating June 4 in the mainland have almost completely disappeared.”

Photo: Apple Daily.

The Alliance has been flying kites at the Clear Water Bay Country Park every year since 1993. The group also organises an annual vigil on June 4 in Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park.

Tsoi called on the public to join the vigil, which drew 115,000 attendees last year according to organiser figures. However, some of Hong Kong’s university student groups have expressed dissatisfaction with the Alliance and held their own separate events.

On Sunday, one of the kites broke from its line in seconds due to heavy wind and rain. The other kite was flown briefly before being retrieved.

Museum harassed

The Alliance said that its museum commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre has faced constant harassment since its reopening last month in Mong Kok.

Around 10 men in black gather outside the museum commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre. Photo: Hong Kong Alliance.

Around 10 men in black were seen gathering at the building’s entrance last Monday, which led the museum staff to call 999. The men told police officers that they were “meeting up to go grave sweeping.”

Police led away two men for investigation but later said no criminal acts were committed.

The Alliance has also faced protests from people purporting to be local residents, who said the museum would disrupt the community.

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Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.