Hong Kong police arrested a pro-democracy activist Friday for allegedly publicizing an unauthorized assembly to honor the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on social media.
“Chow Hang-tung, vice-chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China … [was] arrested over social media posts under section 17A(1D) of the [Hong Kong] Public Order Ordinance,” the Hong Kong Police Force said on June 4. Police also arrested a “20-year-old food delivery person” for the same offense on Friday, according to the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP).
“They were found to have used their social media accounts to advertise or publicise a public meeting that had been prohibited by the police,” Hong Kong Police Force Senior Superintendent Terry Law told reporters on June 4.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China organized an annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park for decades until 2020. The Hong Kong government banned the event last June citing public health concerns due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic and announced last month that this year’s vigil would be prohibited for the same reason.
The Hong Kong Police Force urged the public “not to attend or promote unauthorized assemblies or banned gatherings, to avoid spreading the [Chinese corona]virus,” ahead of the Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary on June 4.
“Authorities have warned of penalties of up to five years in prison for participating in an unlawful assembly and a one-year [prison] sentence for inciting others to do so,” HKFP noted on Friday.
Despite the deterrent messages, students at Hong Kong University (KU) carried on with an annual tradition of cleaning a statue on campus dedicated to the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4.
“Dozens of black-clad students turned up to clean the Pillar of Shame, an eight-metre tall statue of mangled bodies which commemorates the victims of Beijing’s 1989 crackdown,” HKFP reported.
“Thirty-two years ago today, students from Beijing were fighting for freedom and democracy, but they were brutally suppressed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” Charles Kwok, the student union chairman of HKU, told HKFP on Friday.
“What we are doing is just defending the historical truth and commemorating the people who were sacrificed in the incident,” he said.
Campus security personnel attended the gathering, according to HKFP. The staff warned attendees of the event to observe Hong Kong’s social distancing rules which limit public gatherings to four people.
The CCP refuses to officially acknowledge the Tiananmen Square incident as a “massacre” and prohibits any commemoration or accurate documentation of the event within mainland China. Historians estimate that as many as thousands of people died near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 after the CCP sent Chinese army troops to quell a pro-democracy protest in the square led by students.