A pro-Beijing organisation has applied to host a shopping event in part of Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park in early June, according to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). For three decades, the space was the traditional venue of the city’s annual Tiananmen crackdown vigil.
The LCSD added that the two football pitches, and half of the two-hectare central lawn, will be out of bounds until the end of next month owing to a phased maintenance project that began in March. Maintenance and pandemic concerns were also cited for temporary closures around the same time last year.
The shopping event, which is still pending the department’s approval, is set to be held on four of the six football fields between May 30 and June 7, while the other two remaining fields will be closed in early June, the LCSD said. This means that, on the 34th anniversary of the crackdown this year, the venue will continue to be unavailable.
Since 2020, the authorities have denied permission for the candlelit gathering citing Covid-19, whilst the organising group – the Alliance – disbanded in 2021 in light of the national security law.
As of Tuesday, the Hong Kong police had not received any applications for holding a public event on Hong Kong Island on June 4, according to a response emailed to HKFP.
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.
Honorary patron John Lee
According to Ming Pao, the event applicant was the Federation of Hong Kong Guangdong Community Organisations (FHKGCO), a pro-Beijing charity founded in 1996.
On its website, the organisation said its mission is “persisting to love the country, Hong Kong and the homeland.” A number of high-profile tycoons and politicians are among its board members, including Chief Executive John Lee – who is the principal honorary patron – and Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, who is the director.
The organisation has organised tours, talks, parades and table tennis competitions in the mainland, but has not organised any shopping events during the past five years, according to the activity review section of its website.
In 2020 and 2021, Hong Kong police banned the vigil initiated by the defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China citing anti-pandemic restrictions on gatherings. With the park sealed off last year as well, some mourners nevertheless gathered on the outskirts amid a large police deployment and several arrests.
The former vice chair of the now-defunct Alliance, Richard Tsoi, told HKFP on Wednesday that the pro-Beijing group’s bid to hold a sale on that specific day was “unusual.” Tsoi was among the eight democrats jailed over inciting an unlawful assembly at the banned vigil in 2020.
“That organisation has never held any event like that, and that week is not a special day or holiday – unless they want to commemorate June 4 – [so] it seems they are trying to occupy the park because of political reasons,” Tsoi said.
FHKGCO refused to comment when asked for a response on Wednesday.
The ex-organiser said he has no plans to hold any activities to commemorate the crackdown this year.
“This is going to be the first June 4 since all pandemic restrictions were scrapped in Hong Kong… However, judging from previous experience, launching any public assembly would be difficult these days,” he said, adding that thanks to another organisation hosting an event at the park on that day, the police will not be faced with declining an application for a commemoration.
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