The organisers of Hong Kong’s annual Tiananmen Massacre vigil have called for city-wide commemorative events, after the government effectively banned a rally in Victoria Park for the second successive year, citing coronavirus concerns.

The Hong Kong Alliance urged people to “light a candle wherever you are” at 8 p.m. on June 4 to commemorate the victims of the massacre on its 32nd anniversary.

Tiananmen vigil Victoria Park 2020
The annual vigil at Victoria Park on June 4, 2020, to commemorate victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Photo: May James/HKFP.

Chow Hang-tung, vice chair of the Alliance, told HKFP on Monday the call was a “back-up” plan in case the vigil at Victoria Park is officially banned again.

“It’s also a way for everyone to join, even though, say, you’re not in Hong Kong, even though you have other engagements, for any reason you cannot come to Victoria Park,” said Chow.

“…even if there is a lawful assembly in Victoria Park, people can still do this elsewhere in Hong Kong, or in other places in the world.”

Hong Kong officials have already effectively banned the park vigil after the the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) suspended processing applications from all organisations for the leasing of its facilities for non-designated uses, citing Covid-19 fears.

‘Not optimistic’

The candlelight vigil, held annually at Victoria Park and attracting thousands, was banned for the first time in 30 years last year, with authorities citing pandemic concerns. Thousands showed up anyway.

Hong Kong is one of the few places in Greater China where the Tiananmen massacre vigils are held in public.

The killings on June 4, 1989 ended months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people died when the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to crack down on protesters in Beijing.

Chow Hang-tung
Chow Hang-tung. File photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Chow said police had not contacted the Alliance regarding their plan to hold the vigil at Victoria Park next month. But she said she was “not optimistic” that the LCSD would alter its decision not to process the Alliance’s application.

Twenty-four pro-democracy activists were charged with either organising, participating in or inciting others to take part in the unauthorised assembly last June 4. Activists Joshua Wong, former district councillors Lester Shum, Tiffany Yuen, and Jannelle Leung were sentenced to between four months and 10 months in prison last Thursday

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai, veteran activists including “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Cyd Ho, Lee Cheuk-yan and Chow will appear in West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts on June 11 regarding last year’s commemoration.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.