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Hong Kong Bans Tiananmen Vigil for 1st Time, in New Challenge to Protests

2020-06-01 19:50:51

Hong Kong on Monday prohibited for the first time the annual June 4 vigil to honor victims of the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, which the Chinese government crushed with deadly force.

The prohibition order was issued by the Hong Kong police force, and came less than a week after the Chinese Communist authorities in Beijing moved to enact new security laws on the former British colony. The order cited the need to enforce social-distancing rules to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as the justification for the ban.

The gathering to remember Tiananmen, held annually since 1990, had become a major rallying point for Hong Kongers worried about what they see as China’s rising repression. In the crackdown 31 years ago on the demonstrations in Tiananmen and other cities, Chinese soldiers killed hundreds, and possibly thousands, of protesters.

Fears about limits on free speech and political expression have intensified in the past few days, after Beijing defied an international outcry and announced that it would impose new national security restrictions on Hong Kong that could effectively criminalize anything deemed subversive.

Critics called the new restrictions a violation of the “one country, two systems” principle that guaranteed Hong Kong’s way of life for at least 50 years after Britain returned the territory to China in 1997. They also immediately raised conjecture that the Tiananmen vigil might be banned.


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