Hong Kong’s June 4th Museum documenting the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre has shut down just three days after it reopened.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) initiated prosecution proceedings against the museum on Tuesday after an investigation found that individuals were suspected to have violated the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance. It acted on a complaint saying that the museum was suspected to have operated without a license for places of public entertainment, an FEHD statement said.
The museum’s operator, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (Hong Kong Alliance) announced on Wednesday that it will close the museum while it seeks legal advice, as well as to ensure the safety of its staff and the public.
“Facing the difficulties of the current political landscape, the Alliance still believes that Hongkongers’ sentiments to never forget June 4 will not disappear,” the group said in a statement.
“We hope Hongkongers will use their wisdom, agility and persistence to mourn for June 4th in their own ways, at an appropriate time and location, and under legal, safe, peaceful and rational circumstances.”
The Tiananmen massacre occurred on June 4, 1989 ending 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.
Richard Tsoi of the Hong Kong Alliance told reporters on Monday that FEHD officers visited the museum at about 2pm that day.
“It’s been 10 years we’ve had similar exhibitions here,” Tsoi said. “We won’t rule out a political motivation [to the officers’ visit].”
The museum saw over 550 visitors during the three days it was open, the Hong Kong alliance said. It had been closed for renovation.
HKFP has reached out to the Hong Kong Alliance for comment.
Under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance, the definition of entertainment would cover a “concert, stage performance, musical, dramatic or theatrical entertainment, lecture or story-telling, exhibition” and more. Any person who operates a place of public entertainment without a licence can face a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and six months in jail.
An art space in Mong Kok called Green Wave Art was ordered to shut down in 2019 by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council, saying that it operated without a places of public entertainment license. The shut down order was issued days after the gallery — whose operators were outspoken on political issues — hosted a forum for speakers to discuss political censorship in the art scene. The event came after a Chinese dissident’s appearance at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival was axed in late 2018.