China's Heavy-Handed Crackdown on Tiananmen Square Memorials

By: Sashwata Saha
06 Jun 2021 12:05:45 PM Newshound India Desk

For the first time since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, there was no formal commemoration event held in China or its neighbouring states for the anniversary. The event remains a taboo topic of discussion in mainland China and was not officially commemorated by the ruling Communist Party government.


Thirty-two years after soldiers crushed student protests in Beijing and killed several thousand people, a potent combination of censorship, government crackdowns on criticism and pandemic restrictions ensured no physical gathering was allowed in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.


This year, the services were even more low key. According to The Wall Street Journal, promotional posters made no mention of the events of 1989, stating: “For various reasons, we may not be able to elaborate, but let’s not forget history.”


These encrypted messages reflect a growing fear among citizens to speak out amid a nationwide security crackdown that has largely silenced public dissent and led to the arrests of dozens of pro-democracy figures. The vigil in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park — which drew tens of thousands of people yearly and was for decades the only Tiananmen Square memorial tolerated on Chinese soil — was again banned by police, who cited pandemic restrictions on gatherings. Other events, like student gatherings, are no more.


“In today’s Hong Kong, we have to learn how to deliver a message in an indirect way,” Porson Chan, a project officer at the commission of the group of churches that offered Mass on Friday, said to WSJ


Meanwhile, Hong Kong police had about 3,000 riot response officers on standby in case anyone attempted to gather on Friday, according to local media. Last week, Hong Kong’s June 4 museum closed after it was suspected by authorities of violating public entertainment regulations. It had been open for just three days since undergoing renovations, during which 550 visited, according to the Hong Kong Alliance, a non-government organisation.

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