Hong Kongers refuse to forget the Tiananmen massacre | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Hong Kongers refuse to forget the Tiananmen massacre

Regime celebrates Chinese rule instead of acknowledging anniversary

A woman holding an illuminated cell phone is stopped by a police officer near Victoria Park on June 04, 2022 in Hong Kong. Getty Images/Photo by Anthony Kwan

Hong Kongers refuse to forget the Tiananmen massacre

On Sunday, the 34th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, 26 pro-Beijing groups will hold a carnival at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park. Until 2020, the park was the scene of an annual candlelight vigil, where more than 100,000 participants remembered China’s deadly crackdown on protesters. This year, the carnival celebrates the 26th year of Hong Kong’s return from Britain to China in July 1997.

The pro-China administration in Hong Kong will also deploy up to 5,000 officers to patrol the city this weekend to prevent people from demonstrating as they did the past two years. Authorities have used a Beijing-imposed national security law and pandemic restrictions to quash dissent in Hong Kong, imprisoning activists who organized the annual vigils.

The three-day, pro-government celebration in place of a somber commemoration reflects the Chinese regime’s ongoing attempts to erase memories of the massacre it still refuses to acknowledge. Despite increased suppression, Hong Kongers remember what happened on June 4, 1989, when the Chinese government sent tanks through Beijing to clear peaceful student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds and possibly thousands of civilians.

The Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong canceled annual Masses to mark the anniversary last year over concerns of violating the national security law. The Masses remain canceled this year, but smaller closed-door prayer meetings continue. Ward Memorial Methodist Church in Yau Ma Tei held a members-only prayer meeting on Tuesday, though the pastor leading the service was careful to avoid speaking about politically sensitive issues, one participant told the Hong Kong-based Christian Times.

Though authorities have barred residents from commemorating the massacre in public spaces, Hong Kong Christians are making use of advertisement space in Christian Times. Some bought half-page spaces in last Sunday’s edition and ran a message that read, “Refusing to forget.” Another depicted a lit candle with the number “6434,” referring to the June 4 massacre’s 34th anniversary.

On Sunday, the publication will print a joint prayer statement signed by 361 Hong Kong Christians, including prominent pastors. Even though “the passage of time would lessen the pain that has lasted 34 years and pressure would cause it to be forgotten,” the text reads, “we still insist on keeping watch and remembering.”

The regime’s efforts to censor history extend to the city’s public libraries, which have pulled at least 195 political items off their shelves since 2020, local newspaper Ming Pao reported on May 15. The removed material included books and documentaries about the Tiananmen massacre and Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movements.

Government officials have not provided a list of the banned items. Hours after Ming Pao’s report, teacher Sung Chor On posted on Facebook about a list he is compiling to keep track of the libraries’ disappearing books and invited others to help with the endeavor. While Sung worries he might run afoul of the national security law’s unclear guidelines, he said it’s worth the risk to have a record of those titles so the next generation can find out the truth.

Tiananmen rallies are planned globally on Sunday, including in Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In New York, a new Manhattan museum about the democracy crackdown opened Friday. The June 4th Museum is the only one of its kind after Hong Kong authorities shut down a similarly named June 4th Museum in 2021.

The Tiananmen Mothers—a group of survivors and family members of victims—continue to seek justice. Though 71 members of the group have died over the years, the Tiananmen Mothers persist in demanding that the Chinese government present the truth about the crackdown, provide accountability for the killing of civilians, and compensate the survivors and families of victims.

In a statement dated Saturday and signed by 116 members, the Tiananmen Mothers wrote, “We are waiting for the government to apologize.”

These summarize the news that I could never assemble or discover by myself. —Keith

Sign up to receive World Tour, WORLD’s free weekly email newsletter on international news.

Please wait while we load the latest comments...