Hong Kong detains artist in lead-up to anniversary of Tiananmen Square crackdown

by Admin
Hong Kong detains artist in lead-up to anniversary of Tiananmen Square crackdown

On the eve of the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in China, Hong Kong detained a performance artist.

Police detained Sanmu Chen on Monday on a street of Causeway Bay. The area is a busy shopping district of Hong Kong that is close to a park that once held a vigil annually to commemorate victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in China. The vigil in Victoria Park once brought tens of thousands of people out in remembrance each June 4. With the new security law imposed by Beijing in 2020, the crowds have disappeared.

Before officers approached him, reports say Chen mimed the action of drinking in front of a police van. He also appeared to write or draw in the air. Chen was detained last year on the same day when he chanted, “Hong Kongers, do not be afraid. Don’t forget tomorrow is June 4.”

Since last Tuesday, police have taken action against several individuals accused of “seditious” social media posts. One of the individuals arrested was Chow Hang-tung, an activist and organizer of the annual Victoria Park vigil. Chow is already serving an over 30-month sentence and has been detained since 2021.

The Tiananmen Square crackdown occurred when government troops fired on student-led pro-democracy protestors on June 4. Hundreds, possibly thousands, died.

The park vigil, once a commemoration of those deaths, has vanished after the 2020 national security law. Vigil organizers disbanded, and three of its former leaders were charged. Pro-Beijing groups are scheduled to host a carnival in the park this June 4.

Critics have stated that the end of the vigil has shown that the freedoms in Hong Kong have deteriorated since the British returned the former colony to Chinese rule in 1997. Beijing and Hong Kong have stated that the new law restored stability following anti-government protests in 2019.

There have been other responses to the disappeared vigil. A Christian newspaper that typically releases content about the vigil ahead of the anniversary, published its front page mostly blank on Sunday in response to the issue. Stephen Chow, Hong Kong’s Roman Catholic cardinal, wrote an article last week calling for forgiveness and subtly referencing the anniversary.

“Perhaps it is through forgiveness that all parties can escape the finger-pointing and the painful mindset of ‘I will never forgive,’” he wrote.

Others have communicated through coded references. Several police officers spent an hour at an independent bookstore and recorded customer names after staff had put a coded reference to June 4, “5.35” on the window, according to the store’s Instagram.

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