A student activist has been arrested after his group set up a street booth commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre on the 32nd anniversary of the crackdown.

Police arrest June 4 Tiananmen Square 2021
Police arrest Student Policism member Wong Yat-chin. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Convenor of Student Politicism Wong Yat-chin was arrested on Friday evening in Mong Kok after the group set up a street booth to play a BBC documentary on the 1989 massacre.

Wong Yat-chin arrested
Chaotic scenes as police arrest student activist Wong Yat-chin on June 4, 2021. Photo: Candice Chau.

It came as thousands of police fanned out across the city to prevent gatherings after they banned the annual vigil in Victoria Park citing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to his arrest, Wong, and secretary of Student Politicism Chan Chi-sum, said that they were warned by the government that if they decided to play an unlicensed film, they could face a fine of HK$200,000 and a year of imprisonment.

Chan Chi-sam
Chan Chi-sum. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Dozens of police officers surrounded the group’s booth while members decided whether they should go ahead with the screening. Wong was later arrested under the Public Order Ordinance.

Student Politicism
Student Politicism. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Community commemorations of the Tiananmen Massacre took place across the city as the police officially banned the annual vigil in Victoria Park for the second consecutive year.

June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre Victoria Park 2021
Victoria Park was empty on June 4 for the first time in 32 years in 2021. Photo: Kevin Cheng/United Social Press.

Earlier on Friday afternoon, police sealed off parts of the park, citing risks of an unauthorised assembly under section 17 of the Public Order Ordinance.

The Tiananmen crackdown occurred on June 4, 1989 ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died when the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on protesters in Beijing.

June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre Victoria Park 2021
Ms Yuen. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Ms. Yuen, who was handling out candles in Mong Kok, said that she has been doing so over the last couple of years on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre.

candle June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre Victoria Park 2021
Ms Yuen’s candles. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

“We have been handing out candles here instead of at Victoria Park in the last couple of years,” said Yuen. “Because we think that there is more than one way to commemorate the victims.”

June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre Victoria Park 2021
Ms Yuen. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

“I think people should use their wisdom and pick a way to commemorate that is acceptable here [in Hong Kong],” said Yuen. “You can never completely forget (about the massacre), unless this regime apologises to its people.”

Derek Chu
Member of Community March Derek Chu holding up a sign that reads: “6.4, 8pm at night, lights up everywhere” in a street booth in Mong Kok on June 4, 2021. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Yau Tsim Mong community group Community March also organised a street booth in Mong Kok on Friday evening distributing candles to members of public. At least 20 police officers stood near the booths monitoring crowd gatherings, warning the public about possible violations of Covid-19 social-distancing rules.

Community March June 4th
Police officers near Community March’s street booth. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Dozens of people also gathered outside Langham Place, Mong Kok, holding up their phone lights at around 8 p.m..

June 4th Mong Kok commemoration
Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

Mr. Cheung, who initially planned to go to the Victoria Park, told HKFP that he decided to go to Mong Kok instead as it would be “easier for him to leave if anything happens.”

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Mr. Cheung
Mr. Cheung. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

“There are a lot of places we can go, we don’t have to all go to [Victoria Park] as the centre point,” said Cheung.

Langham Place
Two electronic candles placed on a statue outside Langham Place, Mong Kok, with stickers that read: “do not forget,” and “even when you’re disappointed, you cannot feel desperate.” Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.
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Candice Chau

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.