Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Massacre Museum was raided by national security police on Thursday morning, according to organisers.
The June 4th Museum was shut down in early June, three days after it was reopened with a new exhibition. Organisers – the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China – said the decision was made “to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.”
On Wednesday, police arrested the Alliance’s leaders after they refused to hand over information as part of a national security probe.
Vice-chair Chow Hang-tung and committee members Simon Leung, Tang Ngok-kwan and Chan To-wai were detained at separate police stations.
The force have alleged that the group had been working as an agent for foreigners, a potential violation of the Beijing-imposed security law.
The Alliance risked a HK$100,000 fine and six months behind bars after they declined to cooperate, saying the force had no basis for their claims.
A Security Bureau spokesperson said any law enforcement operations were “based on evidence” and “strictly according to the law.”
Senior Superintendent Steve Li was present during Thursday’s raid, as officers took away boxes of material, according to Citizen News.
It took place as 12 activists appeared in court pleading guilty to participating and inciting others to participate in the 2020 Tiananmen Massacre vigil in Victoria Park, which the authorities banned citing Covid-19 restrictions.
HKFP has reached out to the police for comment.
In July, the Tiananmen Massacre museum’s organisers were fined HK$8,000 after pleading guilty to violating the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance.
The embattled group admitted to operating the June 4th museum without a licence for places of public entertainment.
Secretary for Security Chris Tang had vowed “swift and efficient action” against the Alliance after its denial of a police data request.
Founded in 1989, the Alliance has been the organiser of an annual vigil and other events commemorating victims of the Tiananmen Massacre. 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 on June 4, 1989.
The group has been under increasing pressure from officials and pro-Beijing voices in recent months, which have called on the group to disband or face legal consequences under the security law.
Other key Alliance leaders Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho have been jailed on charges relating to the 2019 protests and unrest, while seven members of its permanent committee resigned in early July. The group has announced it will hold a meeting at the end of the month to vote on whether to disband.
Speaking about the Alliance on Tuesday, the city’s leader Carrie Lam denied that recent pressure on the group represented a crackdown on civil society, saying that a group which did not obey the law and the police could not be considered a part of civil society.