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31st anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests

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Template:Infobox historical event The 31st anniversary of Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 was principally events that occurred in China and elsewhere on and leading up to 4 June 2020 – to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which thousands of people are widely believed to have been killed.

Background[edit source | edit]

Since 1989, Hong Kong has been the only place on Chinese soil where the Tiananmen Square massacre is publicly commemorated.[1][2] The 31st anniversary is set against the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic and intense political conflict and civil unrest since June 2019.[3][4] Furthermore, the National People's Congress voted to impose a national security law on Hong Kong which would outlaw subversion and has cemented fears that the concept of "one country, two systems" – which buffers Hong Kong from mainland China – was being seriously undermined.[5][2]

In 2020, the Hong Kong government invoked Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance, imposing a 4-person limit for public gatherings,[6] and many observers believe that the coronavirus pandemic provided cover for an increase of arrests related to the protests.[7][1]

Mainland China[edit source | edit]

Tiananmen Square in Beijing was reportedly empty and quiet on the day. Pedestrians' ID were checked at security checkpoints upon entry to the square, and nationwide mass surveillance was tightened to prevent any commemoration of the event. Human rights groups reported that, as in recent years, dissidents were sent away or placed under house arrest and their communications cut off.[8]

Hong Kong[edit source | edit]

Following the emergence of three cases of local transmission, the government extended its coronavirus social distancing measures by 14 days, to 4 June, affecting the annual Tiananmen Square massacre vigil in Victoria Park. The government denied suggestions that the extension was aimed at interfering with the commemoration, saying the decision was made in accordance with its extension policy.[9][10] Whilst announcing that it would relax restrictions on religious gatherings and that high school students would restart school the next Wednesday (3 June), the Hong Kong government decreed that public gatherings of more than eight people would remain prohibited.

Concerned that the vigil will not be permitted, Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China which organises the annual vigil pointed to the contradiction between a possible ban and a relaxation of health measures. He accused the government of political interference. He invited Hongkongers to "blossom everywhere" and turn the vigil into a tribute across the entire city.[11] Finally, after the police issued a letter of objection to the organisers, citing health restrictions on gatherings of more than eight people. The Alliance announced that, in the absence of an official vigil, 60 booths would be set up across the city on 4 June to distribute candles starting in the afternoon. Lee said that members would still be allowed to enter Victoria Park that night, but called on the public to light candles across the city and join an online gathering.[12][13]

In response to the government ban, the memorial activities have become more diffuse throughout Hong Kong.[14] The HKASPDMC organised a long-distance running event on the preceding Sunday starting at 8.45 am, with Victoria Park as the end point; participants ran in groups of eight.[15] Literary groups PEN Hong Kong and Cha: An Asian Literary Journal held English-language book readings on 3 June "To honour the struggle of the democracy protesters, mourn their defeat, and take stock of the last three decades and more"; citizens organised commemorations of the massacre in districts throughout Hong Kong.[14]

After issuing a letter of objection to the organisers, the police announced that some 3,000 riot police would be deployed to enforce the ban.[16] Notwithstanding, tens of thousands gathered at Victoria Park to attend the vigil, afraid that time was running out on the anniversary in Hong Kong.[2][17][8] While no violence was reported in or around Victoria Park, scuffles were reported in Mong Kok where hundreds had gathered. As part of the continuing civil unrest, protesters who blocked roads with various objects were met with police officers who used pepper spray to disperse them.[5]

On the day of the aniversary, the Legislative Council of Hong Kong passed a bill to outlaw the insulting the Chinese national anthem, where those convicted of intentionally abusing it could face up to three years in prison and a fine of HK$50,000 ($6,450). The bill was supported by 41 lawmakers, all from pro-Beijing factions, and just one legislator opposed. Most of the pro-democracy lawmakers boycotted the vote in protest.[18]

Macau[edit source | edit]

In Macau, where anniversary is remembered in a considerably more low key manner, the government revoked permission to hold an annual photographic exhibition themed on the massacre in 1989, on the pretext of "standardisation of use of public spaces", to the criticism of democracy advocates.[19]

References[edit source | edit]

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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-52920083
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