Hong Kongers mark Tiananmen crackdown despite ban


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Media captionImages from last year’s commemoration in Hong Kong

People across Hong Kong are finding ways to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, despite the official vigil being banned.

On 4 June 1989 troops and tanks opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing – estimates of the dead vary from a few hundred to several thousand.

Tens of thousands of people normally mark the anniversary in Hong Kong.

But this year – as Beijing proposed a new security law for the city – the vigil was banned for virus reasons.

Police told local media that 3,000 riot officers would be deployed to stop smaller or impromptu commemorations.

Hong Kong and Macau are the only parts of China allowed to mark the killings.

On the mainland, references to the crackdown are banned, and the government mentions it rarely – if at all.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s parliament is expected to vote on a controversial national anthem bill – which would make disrespecting the Chinese anthem an offence – on Thursday.

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Media captionTiananmen’s tank man: The image that China forgot

What is planned in Hong Kong on Thursday?

The Hong Kong Alliance – which organises the annual vigil – has published a timetable for a home-based commemoration.

They are asking people to light a candle at 20:00 local time “no matter where you are”, followed by a minute’s silence, songs, and “chanting of slogans”.

They also want to send delegates to Victoria Park in small groups that comply with social-distancing rules.

Groups of up to eight are allowed to gather in Hong Kong under the territory’s virus rules.

But police sources told the South China Morning Post that if different groups gathered for a “common purpose”, they would be moved on.

Some pro-democracy activists marked the anniversary outside a Hong Kong prison on Wednesday evening.

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Pro-democracy activists outside the Lai Chi Kok prison on Wednesday

What is the proposed security law?

The Chinese government wants a new security law for Hong Kong, which would make it a crime to undermine Beijing’s authority.

The law could also see China installing its own security agencies in the city for the first time.

Critics fear the law would remove Hong Kong’s freedoms and mean the end of the “one country, two systems” way of life.

They also fear the bill could mean no more Tiananmen Square vigils in Hong Kong – even after the virus threat has eased.

The draft law was passed by China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, and will now be fleshed out.

The proposal sparked renewed protests in Hong Kong. When the city last tried to introduce a national security law in 2003, it backed down after public anger.

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What about the national anthem bill?

The national anthem bill is separate to the national security law.

Last month, there was chaos in parliament as pro-Beijing lawmakers attempted to push it through.

It is expected to be approved by the parliament, known as the Legislative Council, on Thursday.

In recent years, the Chinese anthem has been booed more frequently before the Hong Kong national football team’s matches.

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Media captionWhy were Hong Kong fans booing their anthem? (2015 video)

What happened in Tiananmen Square?

Pro-democracy protesters occupied Tiananmen Square in April 1989 and began the largest political demonstration in communist China’s history.

They lasted six weeks, with as many as a million people taking part.

On the night of 3 June tanks moved in and troops opened fire, killing and injuring many unarmed people in and around the square.

With estimates varying from the hundreds to even 10,000, China has never given an official figure for how many people died.

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