Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters defied a ban against gathering at a park to commemorate Thursday’s anniversary of China’s deadly Tiananmen crackdown, with tensions seething in the financial hub over a planned new security law.
The semi-autonomous city had for three decades seen huge vigils to remember those killed when China’s communist leaders deployed its military into Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to crush a student-led movement for democratic reforms.
This year’s vigil was banned, with authorities citing COVID-19 restrictions on group gatherings. But the pro-democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, who have been waging a long struggle against what they see as China’s tightening grip on the city, were determined to make their voices heard.
Hundreds of people, including some prominent democracy leaders, broke through barriers at Victoria Park where the vigil is held each year just as night fell.
‘I’ve come here for the vigil for 30 years in memory of the victims of the June 4 crackdown, but this year it is more significant to me,’ a 74-year-old man who gave his surname as Yip told AFP inside the park.
Some of the people in the park wore black t-shirts with the word ‘Truth’ emblazoned in white. Others shouted pro-democracy slogans including: ‘Stand with Hong Kong’. Police maintained a presence near the park but did not move to disperse the protesters.
The defiant gathering came hours after pro-Beijing lawmakers in Hong Kong’s legislature succeeded in passing a bill criminalising insults to China’s national anthem.
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