HK defies Tiananmen vigil ban | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 05, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:13 AM, June 05, 2020

HK defies Tiananmen vigil ban

Pepper spray, arrests as thousands lit candles, chant democracy slogans

  • Legislature passes law making insults to China's nat'l anthem a crime
  • City braces for national security laws amid global condemnation

 

Thousands of Hong Kong protesters lit candles and chanted democracy slogans as they defied a ban yesterday against gathering to commemorate China's deadly Tiananmen crackdown, with tensions seething in the city over a planned new security law.

Crowds streamed into city's Victoria Park that has hosted huge Tiananmen anniversary vigils for the past three decades, with smaller rallies erupting across the finance hub.

Police arrested some demonstrators in a shopping district on although they allowed the main rally at Victoria Park to proceed. Police also fired pepper spray to disperse protesters who gathered in Hong Kong's working class district of Mong Kok.

The displays of resistance came hours after Hong Kong's legislature passed a bill criminalising insults to China's national anthem, which the pro-democracy movement sees as yet another example of eroding freedoms.

China's plans to impose a security law on Hong Kong criminalising treason and subversion, has cemented fears that the semi-autonomous city is losing its treasured liberties.

Hundreds of people were killed in 1989 when China's communist rulers deployed the military into Beijing's Tiananmen Square to crush a student-led movement for democratic reforms.

Commemorations of the event are forbidden in mainland China but have been allowed in semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which has been granted liberties under the terms of its 1997 handover from the British.

The city was engulfed by seven straight months violent pro-democracy protests last year -- rallies that kicked off five days after the last annual vigil. In response to those demonstrations Beijing last month announced plans to impose the security law.

Critics, including many Western nations, fear it will bring mainland-style political oppression to a business hub.

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