(AFP) – On the eve of the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, police arrested four people in Hong Kong on Saturday on charges of “sedition” and “disturbance.”
The bloody crackdown in Beijing in 1989 is a very sensitive topic for the Chinese Communist Party leadership, and it has long been forbidden on the mainland to mourn the hundreds (estimated more than 1,000) killed.
For decades, Hong Kong was the only Chinese city to host a large-scale public memorial service for the Tiananmen Square massacre. Vigils were prohibited.
Around the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay on Saturday, AFP reporters witnessed police stuff several performance artists, some of whom appeared to be doing nothing, into a police van.
Late Saturday night, police said they had arrested four people for “disturbing public order” and “disrespectful conduct”.
Police said on its official Facebook page that four other people had been detained “to support the investigation” on suspicion of “violating the peace”.
They did not release the names of those arrested or detained.
Earlier, artist Sangmu Chen repeatedly chanted, “Remember June 4th!” Hong Kongers, don’t be afraid of them! ” Located on busy Causeway Bay Road.
A police officer yelled at him to “stop sedition,” before authorities forced him into a police bus.
Another prominent performance artist, Zhang Meitong, was also taken, but police refused to explain why she was detained.
An AFP reporter said Chan was walking around when police stopped him and searched him.
She was also detained on the eve of her anniversary last year. Last year, in her offensive work, she carved a potato into a candle shape and held a lighter to it.
Thousands of candles were to be distributed during the now-banned annual Tiananmen Vigil.
Local media reported that two other prominent activists, Lau Kayee and Kwan Chumphon, were removed from Victoria Park by police.
Photos released showed activists holding papers and covering their mouths with red tape.
It said they were fasting “to honor the mothers of Tiananmen and to mourn the 64 (June 4) dead and victims.”
AFP journalists also saw police detain a young couple dressed in white and holding white chrysanthemums. This flower and color are usually used to signify loss and sorrow.
When asked if the man with the flowers would be arrested, he replied, “I don’t know.”
– Forbidden Wake –
On June 4, 1989, Chinese troops and tanks dispersed peaceful protests in Tiananmen Square, brutally crushing a wave of weeks-long demonstrations calling for political change.
The annual candlelight rally in Victoria Park attracted tens of thousands of people for decades until it was banned in 2020.
Outside the park at Causeway Bay, artists performed performances explaining the crackdown and the apparent removal of monuments on the mainland.
The organizers of the rally, the Hong Kong Alliance and its leaders, called it a “subversion agitation” under the security law imposed to quell the large-scale and often violent pro-democracy movement that rocked Hong Kong in 2019. was indicted on charges of
Former alliance member Qiu Yangloi told AFP that police had repeatedly questioned him about the plans for June 4.
“I was told many times not to leave the house that day,” he says.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 1, 2022
On Saturday, Victoria Park, which has been fenced off for the past three years, held a “Hometown Fair” launched by a pro-Beijing group to promote products from mainland China. It will run until Monday.
A large police presence was held around Victoria Park and Causeway Bay on Saturday.
Police stopped and searched people wandering the busy shopping street while an armored vehicle was found parked outside the mall.
One performance artist, who was being closely followed by authorities on Saturday, took a quieter deed, moving from street to street around the park with a folding chair to sit and take selfies.
“My thinking was that you can’t stop unless the police stop you,” the artist, who identified himself as Tan, told AFP.
Ahead of Sunday’s anniversary, officials repeatedly refused to confirm whether public remembrance of the Tiananmen Square massacre was illegal, saying only that “everyone should act according to the law.”