HONG KONG — For years, China has shunned any discussion on the mainland of its bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, almost wiping it from the collective consciousness. Now it may be Hong Kong’s turn, as China’s ruling Communist Party pulls the city straight into its orbit.
The semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and nearby Macao were for years the last places on Chinese soil allowed to publicly mark the events of June 4, 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army launched a crackdown on student-led protesters. opened fire in which hundreds of people were killed. If not thousands, dead.
Hong Kong’s security minister last week warned residents against participating in unauthorized gatherings.
In mainland China, the younger generation grew up with little knowledge or debate about this action, but efforts to suppress monuments in Hong Kong following massive anti-government protests screwed up Beijing’s increasingly tight control over Hong Kong. mark another turning point. 2019. 2019. Those demonstrations developed into months of sometimes violent clashes between small groups of protesters and police. And they have taken widespread crackdown on dissent in the former British colony, long an oasis of capitalism and democracy and promised it would largely maintain its independence for 50 years when it was returned to China in 1997 .
Since the protests, China has enacted a comprehensive national security law aimed at tightening punishments for actions taken by protesters, and authorities have demanded the arrest of nearly all outspoken and prominent pro-democracy figures in the city. is of. Most are either behind bars or have fled the city.
Despite the restrictions this year, Hong Kongers have been called to remember the 1989 action in private, with vigilante organizers calling on residents to light candles at 8 p.m. Friday, no matter where they are.
Online calls circulated on social media also urged residents to wear black on Friday. Local newspaper Ming Pao published an article last week saying residents write numbers six and four on their light switches – for the date June 4 – so each flip of the switch is also an act of remembrance.
For decades, Chan Qin Wing has regularly participated in vigils in Hong Kong.
“I was lucky to be born in Hong Kong. If I had been born on the mainland, I could have been one of the students in Tiananmen Square that day,” said Chan, whose parents lived in Mainland in the 1960s. had fled to Hong Kong by land.
“When it happened on June 4, 1989, Hong Kong witnessed an indelible historical event of the murder of students by a corrupt regime,” Chan said.
This year, Chan plans to remember the event in private, dressed in black and changing his profile picture on social media to the image of a burning candle in the dark.
“I’ve resolved to never forget June 4th, and try to remember it to make sure it’s never forgotten,” he said.
In mainland China, the Tiananmen Mothers, a group representing the relatives of the victims, published an appeal on the Human Rights in China website, releasing official records about the party’s action on their long-standing demands of the killed. and urged to pay attention to the demand for compensation for the injured. And those responsible will have to account.
“We look forward to the day when the CPC and the Chinese government can honestly and courageously set the record and take their due responsibility for the 1989 anti-human genocide in accordance with the law and facts,” the statement said.
However, the government intends to run the clock on such appeals.
While Tiananmen Mothers said that 62 of its members have died since the group’s founding in the late 1990s, many young Chinese, they said, “have grown up in a false sense of opulence and enforced glorification of the government ( and) no idea what happened on June 4, 1989 in the nation’s capital refused to believe.
Hong Kong police on Friday detained a coalition leader who runs and runs a museum commemorating the event.
Chow Hang Tung told the Associated Press in an interview last week that the earlier arrests and convictions of key activists have had a cooling effect on those who participated in the vigil in the past.
“Obviously there will be fear and people can’t believe that they can come and express their memory for the Tiananmen massacre victims and be spotless,” said Chou, vice president of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of China’s Patriotic Democratic Movements.
He said what drives him forward is the dream that both China and Hong Kong could one day have democracy. However, the tide appears to be going in the other direction.
“It’s something worth fighting for,” she said. “If one day we can’t talk about Tiananmen, it will mean that Hong Kong is completely assimilated into Chinese society.”
Associated Press journalist Alice Fung contributed to this report.