With Tiananmen Gatherings Banned, Hong Kongers Recall Private


Timeline of events leading up to China’s deadly crackdown on protesters in Beijing in 1989. This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the event.

As Saturday night fell in Hong Kong, democracy activist Chiu Yan-loy turned off the lights, lit some candles and observed a moment of silence to remember those killed in the crackdown on China’s Tiananmen 33 years ago.

For the first time since 2000, when he attended an annual birthday vigil along with tens of thousands of fellow Hong Kongers in the city’s Victoria Park, Chiu performed this ritual alone.

But in 2020, Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law to quell dissent after widespread and sometimes violent pro-democracy protests the year before. Since then, the large-scale public commemoration in the city has been wiped out.

Police warned the public that gathering to commemorate the Tiananmen festival anywhere may violate the law.

“It has become a part of our lives and it is now about how we can apply what we believe in our daily lives.”

The 36-year-old was a former standing committee member of the Hong Kong Alliance, a now-disbanded group that was one of the organizers of the Victoria Park vigil that had been going on for more than three decades.

Chiu said people should not be discouraged by the situation in Hong Kong, and said it was not as bad as in the Eastern European countries under Soviet control, or Taiwan during the martial law era. .

Chiu believes many Hong Kongers like him will find their own way to commemorate June 4, despite warnings and threats from authorities.

“After all, the most important organ is the people who took part in it – as long as our hearts and minds remain unchanged, we won’t give up anytime soon,” he said.

“In the struggle between a people and government, it comes down to faith and memory, and location is less important,” Chu said.

“Even at a low point of the (pro-democracy) movement, I don’t think people will forget June 4,” he said.

Decades of commemorations are erased as Hong Kong is transformed into the image of the mainland.

Earlier this week, four CUHK students placed 3D-printed miniatures of the “Goddess” in various locations on campus, sparking a scavenger hunt for students and alumni.

“But the memories and meanings of the image won’t just disappear once it’s deleted — instead, they depend on actions to pass them on.”

Of the 32 miniatures they made, 23 were found by students, seven were lost, one was damaged with a broken head and its whereabouts are unknown.

“I was told that when I grew up and could be responsible for myself, I would have to attend the candlelight vigil, but I didn’t have a chance,” she said.

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Originally published as With Tiananmen Gatherings Banned, Hong Kongers Privately Remember