Hong Kong’s sole non-establishment lawmaker has said he was “still thinking” about how to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown, the anniversary of which is on June 4.

Tik Chi-yuen. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

Tik Chi-yuen told reporters at the Legislative Council on Wednesday that his moderate political party, Third Side, would not hold any commemorative events. He added that the decision was not related to the national security law, local media reported.

On June 4, 1989, the People’s Liberation Army cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, were estimated to have died.

Since then, crowds have gathered at Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park on the anniversary date to light candles in memory of those who lost their lives and call for a democratic China. With less than two weeks before the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, this year could be the first since 1989 without any public activities in Hong Kong to mark the tragedy.

But the vigil was banned in 2020 and 2021, with authorities citing Covid-19 rules. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the group that organised the yearly commemoration, disbanded last September after pressure from the authorities and the arrests of the group’s leaders.

Victoria Park was empty on June 4 for the first time in 32 years in 2021. Photo: Jimmy Lam/HKFP.

Tik, who has attended the Victoria Park vigils before, told HKFP on Wednesday that while Third Side had not organised anniversary events in the past, the party had participated.

“Third Side does not plan to hold any activities. But individuals can think about how to commemorate [the occasion] in their personal capacity. I am still thinking about it,” he said.

Tik said he still believed there was “room” to express views on the crackdown under the national security law.

The social welfare representative is the only self-proclaimed non-pro-establishment lawmaker in the 90-seat Legislative Council.

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

In December, after Tik was elected to the council, he commented on the University of Hong Kong’s removal of the Tiananmen Massacre statue Pillar of Shame in an interview with HKFP. He stopped short of condemning the move, but said “actions that increase the distance between the people and the government are pointless.”

June 4 motion

There are currently no lawmakers from traditional opposition parties in the Legislative Council.

Every year since 1997, pro-democracy legislators have raised a June 4 motion to not forget the 1989 crackdown. Tik said he would not table the motion this year.

A Hong Kong Catholic group said on Tuesday that it would not hold masses to commemorate the victims of the crackdown this year. Masses have traditionally been held on the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown at several of the city’s Catholic churches to commemorate those who died. 

A man lights a candle in Victoria Park on June 4, 2020. Photo: Joshua Kwan/United Social Press.

Hong Kong was one of very few places in China where the crackdown could be openly discussed and remembered.

When asked by HKFP whether the police would allow commemorative events to be held this year in light of loosened Covid-19 restrictions, the police said last Wednesday they would not disclose information on operational details.

“Police will make assessment and operational deployment in accordance with the actual situation and latest development. As the deployment falls within operational details, Police will not disclose such information,” the police said.

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Hillary Leung

Hillary has an interest in social issues and politics. Previously, she reported on Asia broadly - including on Hong Kong's 2019 protests - for TIME Magazine and covered local news at Coconuts Hong Kong.