Democracy Blow Comes as Hong Kong Pro Democracy Leader Arrested

"Hong Kong June 4 candlelight vigil 2009" by Lok Cheung is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Hong Kong police arrested prominent pro-democracy campaigner Chow Hang Tung. Her arrest occurred for allegedly inciting an unauthorized assembly.

Chow (the vice-chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of China’s Patriotic Democratic Movements) was arrested as thousands of police officers patrolled the city’s streets to prevent any illegal assembly.

What is the Tiananmen Square Massacre?

“that’s him.” by r y _ _ _ _ is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Nearly a million Chinese, mostly young students, gathered in central Beijing in May 1989 to demand greater democracy; they also demanded the retirement of Chinese Communist Party leaders who were seen as excessively oppressive.

Chinese military and security officers invaded Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the masses. Tens of thousands of young students attempted to flee the rampaging Chinese forces, causing chaos.

The backlash on the Chinese government was massive, with the United States Congress voting to impose economic penalties against the People’s Republic of China. This vote arrived in reaction to the horrific violation of human rights by the Chinese government.

Even from China allies, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, expressed his sadness for the events in China. He expressed his hope that the government will implement his domestic reform proposal and begin the process of democratizing China’s political system.

The Crackdown on Democracy

The Chinese government confirmed that Chow was arrested. A 20-year-old man was also arrested on accusations of using social media to publicize an illegal assembly. 

On the mainland, it is illegal to discuss Beijing’s harsh military crackdown on the evening of June 3 and the morning of June 4, 1989. In addition, Hong Kong’s long-standing status as China’s only site where large-scale commemorations were tolerated appeared to be fading.

Thousands of police officers were deployed on Friday to enforce a ban on the city’s traditional candlelight vigil; this event has drawn massive crowds to Victoria Park for over three decades on June 4th. The day has long been used as a demonstration of pro-democracy people’s power, which China has stated it will no longer accept.

Authorities canceled the event this year, blaming the coronavirus pandemic; this happened despite the fact that Hong Kong hasn’t had an untraceable local transmission in over a month and has staged huge public events. Police have also used the national security statute to warn individuals not to congregate for unspecified activities, and to remind the public of specific activists’ recent convictions.

Thousands of cops will be on standby to disperse any illegal gatherings; officials have also warned that a new national security law might be used against Tiananmen Square mourners.

Authorities are attempting to suppress the city’s pro-democracy movement by criminalizing much dissent under the security law. Police detained 24 activists as vigil organizers; several were convicted and thereby sentenced to prison.