Innumerable people in Hong Kong defied a ban for Tiananmen Vigil 2020. Police officers had to put up barricades around Victoria Park. However, pro-democracy protestors pushed them and marched with candles as more people gathered. The police department had banned vigil for 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic.
Lawmakers had passed a bill stating that insulting China’s national anthem is a crime. Before the vote, a couple of legislators were reported throwing a pungent liquid on the chamber floor. Security guards caught them and took them away. They said that the protesters were against China for trying to control Hong Kong and was also commemorating the anniversary of Tiananmen Square.
The recent events have come up since the Chinese government is creating new security laws for Hong Kong. It is a move that violates the freedom of the citizens.
Why was Tiananmen vigil 2020 banned?
Macau and Hong Kong are two territories of China that are allowed to commemorate killings. A yearly vigil is held in Hong Kong every year since 1990. References to the crackdown in Tiananmen Square is hardly shared by the government.
On June 4, 1989, tanks and troops opened fire on the pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. The estimated number of people that died was anywhere between hundreds to thousands.
Innumerable people commemorate the date every year in Hong Kong. However, the police department told the local media that around 3000 riot officers were on duty to stop commemoration this year.
How did the vigil happen?
Protesters gathered at the Victoria Park and shouted pro-democracy slogans like End one-party rule and Stand with Hong Kong. They referred to the monopoly of the Communist Party in China.
A 74-year-old man reported that he attended the Tiananmen vigil for the past 30 years. However, this year has been most significant for him. He added that Hong Kong is experiencing a similar kind of repression from the same political party just like what had happened in Beijing.
Candlelit marches were not just limited to Victoria Park. Hundreds of people crowded in Mong Kok district and there were scuffles against protesters who knocked down barricades put up by the police.
This was the first time that the Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong became such a movement of unrest. Police have made several arrests as well. A woman named Brenda Hui put up a battery-illuminated umbrella that quoted “Never Forget June 4”. She said that she was afraid that it would be the final time Hong Kong locals would be allowed to do a vigil. However, she also said that Hong Kongers will always remember the date forever.
According to the rules levied due to the coronavirus pandemic, only eight people are allowed to group together in Hong Kong. The police sources reported that different groups were formed for the same purpose.
Countries like Taiwan and the US have called China to apologize for Tiananmen crackdown. Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen tweeted:
Around the world, there are 365 days in a year. Yet in China, one of those days is purposely forgotten each year. In Taiwan, there were once days missing from our calendar, but we’ve worked to bring them to light. I hope one day China can say the same.
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) June 4, 2020
Mike Pompeo uploaded a photo on Twitter on him meeting Tiananmen survivors:
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 3, 2020
China’s foreign ministry stated that all these were “complete nonsense”. A spokesman, Zhao Lijian, stated that the great achievement since the foundation of new China for around the last 70 years demonstrates that their developmental path is correct.
How Tiananmen vigil happens every year?
The Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong has always been an organized affair. They include proper sound equipment and electric screens for commemoration. It involves speeches, floral tributes, and more.
Tiananmen vigil 2020 was very different from other years. Police put up metal barriers to block the football pitches at the Victoria Park. Protesters forcefully knocked them to gain access. Thousands of people flocked into the park and a sense of emergency followed.
A young girl Amy, who is in her 20s, said that the national security law when passed will take away their freedom. She attended the mass for the first time in her life.
Exactly at 8 PM in their local time, commemorators observed a moment of silence holding a candle or mobile light. It was followed y slogans likes “liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our times”, “one Hong Kong, one nation”, and more.
There are questions if the vigil is be allowed ever again in the future.
China’s national anthem bill
According to the new China’s national anthem bill, anyone who disrespects the anthem will have to pay a heavy fine and face up to three years of imprisonment. The law also makes learning the anthem and history of China necessary for school students.
Many Hong Kongers look at it as another move from Beijing to impose their will and weaken the “one country, two systems” policy.
The national anthem bill was passed by 41 votes is to one in the Legislative Council of Hong Kong’s parliament. The opposition members tried to disrupt it but that didn’t help. As per reports, the pro-democracy legislators are not allowed to vote.
In the recent past, the Chinese national anthem has been booed before matches involving Hong Kong’s football team. Moreover, a majority of fans sang Glory to Hong Kong and that became a rallying cry for pro-democracy activists.
The proposed security law
The Chinese government wants to pass a new law for Hong Kong, which makes undermining Beijing’s authority a crime. The law showcases how China is trying to install its own security agencies in the city. According to critics, the law will erode the freedom of Hong Kong even more.
The new law might also mean that there will be no more vigils at Tiananmen Square irrespective of the pandemic or not. The draft law was passed by the National People’s Congress and is likely to be in force from September 2020.
The proposal ignited protests in Hong Kong. Similar to 2003 when the government tried to introduce a national security law. However, that didn’t pass due to the public’s anger.