A banner showing the drawing of a candle to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown has been removed by police from a Sai Kung store without advance notice, the store’s owner has said. Police later told her that the banner had been taken down because it was “seditious.”
The store owner Debby Chan, a former district councillor, told HKFP that a banner was hung on the gate on Sunday. The date marked the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
On Monday morning, some neighbours sent her photos of several police officers outside her store before the banner was removed and a notice was put on the gate, Chan told HKFP.
“The police hereby notify that a black drawing has been removed from this gate on the morning of June 5, 2023. If there are any inquiries, please contact the duty officer of the Sai Kung police station,” the notice read.
“I don’t know what proceedings they were following to do this. If [they] were taking enforcement, [they] had to have reasons. That is a private area. The gate is mine,” Chan told HKFP on Monday afternoon.
Chan said police on Monday night asked her to assist in an investigation regarding complaints they had received about her store encouraging others to join Tiananmen crackdown commemorations. The complaints were mainly about her Facebook post and banner.
Chan said the police explained that the banner had been removed as it was a “seditious publication.”
Responding to HKFP’s enquiries on Monday night, police said they had discovered a two-metre by one-metre banner, which was displayed in public. “The content of the banner was suspected of exhibiting seditious intent under Chapter 200 of the Crimes Ordinance,” the police said.
The police added that they removed the banner using the power of “removal of seditious publication” under Section 14 of the Crimes Ordinance. The case was being investigated by the crime unit of the Wong Tai Sin district.
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.
When Chan spoke to HKFP on Monday afternoon, she said there was no difference between the removal of the banner and “theft.”
“[I’m] so angry… Some day they may even break the door down and get inside the store and then just leave a notice. I think this incident was ridiculous.”
She told HKFP that, as of 4 pm on Monday afternoon, the police had not yet contacted her. She said she would not take initiative to contact the police.
“They [police] should contact me as they provoked and initiated this incident.”
Chan Po-ming, a spokesperson of the Democratic Party, the city’s biggest pro-democratic party, said in a statement in the afternoon that the drawings were considered private property under the law. “It is inconceivable that the police removed the drawing after simply posting a notice without explaining the reason,” Chan said.
“Are the private properties of Hong Kong citizens still under the protection of the Basic Law and Hong Kong legislation?”
He urged the police to publicly explain the legal basis of their action.
Sai Kung Store, established by Chan in 2021, sells items including food and accessories, according to its website. It also organises community events.
The store started to give away candles on May 23 to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown, after which it was inspected by officers from four different government departments within nine days.
Help safeguard press freedom & keep HKFP free for all readers by supporting our team
Support press freedom & help us surpass 1,000 monthly Patrons: 100% independent, governed by an ethics code & not-for-profit.