32 years after Tiananmen Square protests, pro-democracy activists arrested in Hong Kong over unauthorized assembly
article by BBC Japan on 2021年6月4日
On June 4, the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests that killed scores of people and crushed China’s democracy movement, Hong Kong police arrested a Hong Kong democracy activist, Zou Kou Tong, for facilitating an unauthorized rally.
Zou is the vice chairman of the Hong Kong Citizens’ Support Patriotic Democratic Movement Federation, which holds an annual rally to commemorate the victims of the Chinese government’s crackdown on democracy activists on June 4, 1989.
The arrest came as Hong Kong banned the memorial rally for the second year in a row due to the spread of the new coronavirus.
Hong Kong and Macau are the only two places in Chinese territory where Tiananmen Square memorial events can be held.
However, like Hong Kong, Macau authorities also banned the memorial events for the second year in a row, claiming that it violates Macau’s criminal law.
Nevertheless, Zou continued to call on residents to mourn the victims on the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests in their own way.
On the day before her arrest, she posted on Facebook, “Light a light, whether it’s a cell phone, candle, or electronic candle, wherever you are.
Zou was reportedly arrested by plainclothes police outside her office in the early morning of April 4.
The AFP news agency reported that she was taken away in a black vehicle.
Before her arrest, Zou, a lawyer and human rights activist, told the BBC that she was prepared for the inevitable.
“I’m prepared to be arrested,” she said. This is the current situation in Hong Kong. If you fight for democracy under an authoritarian regime, you will inevitably be arrested. It is inevitable. I am willing to pay the price to fight for democracy.
Every year, large crowds gather in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park on June 4, the day of the Tiananmen Square protests.
The incident, in which military units and tanks were dispatched to China’s Tiananmen Square and opened fire on unarmed protesters, was condemned by the international community. Estimates of the casualties in the incident range from several hundred to several thousand people.
Last year, however, Hong Kong banned memorial gatherings for the first time in nearly 30 years, citing the spread of a new virus.
Tens of thousands of people ignored this and broke down the barricades set up around Victoria Park.
This is the first anniversary of China’s “Hong Kong National Security Law” (国安法), which came into effect in June last year to crack down on anti-government activities in Hong Kong.
About 100 people have been arrested so far for violating the law.
“This June 4th is the first anniversary of the enforcement of the National Security Law. Many people have asked me if there will be no more memorial events. I think we’ve been working tenaciously for more than 30 years. This is more or less embedded in the DNA of Hong Kong people,” Zou told the BBC before her arrest.
In mainland China, the authorities have banned even a cursory mention of the Tiananmen Square protests. Online, any discussion of the crackdown is heavily censored.
Taiwan commemorates this day every year by criticizing China and calling on the Chinese government to implement real political reforms.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on her Facebook page, “I believe that all Taiwanese who are proud of their freedom and democracy will never forget this day and will stand firm in their beliefs, unshaken by the storm.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his country supports the Chinese people’s struggle for human rights and salutes “the sacrifices made by those who were murdered 32 years ago and the brave activists who continue to strive in the face of ongoing government repression today.
＜”Are you going to arrest me?” –Lam Chow Wai, BBC (Chinese)
When I interviewed Ms. Zou last month, she was as determined to fight as ever.
“I light candles on the street. Are you going to arrest me for that?” She said.
She didn’t even get a chance to light a candle before she was arrested. This did not surprise me. Today, there are about 7,000 police officers patrolling the city.
Local media are reporting that more arrests may be made in one day. This comes as a stark warning to those who are trying to hold banned memorial gatherings.
Zou is seen as the heir apparent to the Hong Kong Citizens’ Aid Patriotic Democratic Alliance, which has been fighting for democracy for more than 30 years.
Zou, a 37-year-old barrister, became a key figure in the pro-democracy movement after his colleagues were jailed for taking part in an unauthorized rally.
Zou had told her supporters that she would head to Victoria Park, where the annual demonstration is held, to uphold tradition.
This is not the first time that Zou has been arrested. Last year, she was also arrested along with other activists for allegedly instigating and participating in an unauthorized rally.