Hong Kong organizer arrested, 7,000 police deployed to quell Tiananmen Square memorials

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June 3 (UPI) — An organizer in Hong Kong was arrested as thousands of police were deployed Friday to enforce a ban on demonstrations for the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Chow Hang-tung, the vice-chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movements in China, was arrested on suspicion of promoting an annual candlelight vigil marking the 1989 massacre in which the Chinese government deployed the military to crack down on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

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Chow, 36, was arrested after saying she would go to Victoria Park, where an annual candlelight vigil is usually held, in a personal capacity to mourn the victims killed in the massacre.

Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK reported that police were expected to deploy as many as 7,000 officers to quell efforts to hold memorials.

RTHK said Victoria Park would be guarded by 3,000 officers and an additional 1,000 officers would remain on standby.

Authorities in China’s special administrative region said last week that the candlelight vigil, which has been held every year since 1990, will be banned for the second consecutive year because COVID-19 concerns remain at the highest “emergency” level.

In addition to banning public demonstrations, a museum dedicated to the June 4 massacre has also closed after authorities said it lacked the proper license.

U.S. State Department representative Jalina Porter said during a press briefing Thursday that the ban represents an extension of Hong Kong and Beijing authorities’ efforts to “silence dissenting voices by also attempting to erase the horrific massacre from history.”

“The United States condemns actions by Hong Kong authorities that prompted organizers to close the June 4th Museum that commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre,” said Porter.

Last year, thousands of people defied the ban and gathered for the annual vigil in Victoria Park, including Joshua Wong, a prominent pro-democracy activist. Wong was recently sentenced to more time in prison.