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On the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Hong Kong beefs up security, while Taiwan denounces repression

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  On Saturday, Hong Kong deployed tight security near a prominent park, warning residents not to congrega...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  On Saturday, Hong Kong deployed tight security near a prominent park, warning residents not to congregate to memorialize China's violent crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square 33 years ago, while Taiwan condemned efforts to obliterate the memories.

Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of Chinese military opening fire in central Beijing to put an end to student-led unrest in and around Tiananmen Square. China has never released a complete death toll, although rights groups and eyewitnesses estimate that the number might be in the thousands.

"To remember is to resist," Teng Biao, a famous Chinese human rights lawyer based in the United States, told Reuters. "If no one remembers, the people's misery will endure indefinitely, and the culprits will go unpunished."

On the mainland, Chinese authorities have prohibited any public commemoration of the event, and Hong Kong authorities have followed suit.

Authorities shut off main portions of Hong Kong's Victoria Park, where people had gathered for an annual vigil before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and warned people against unauthorized gatherings.

Carrie Lam, the city's leader, stated this week that any commemorations of those died in the 1989 crackdown would be subject to national security rules.

In June 2020, China enacted a harsh national security law in Hong Kong, punishing acts of subversion, terrorism, and coordination with foreign forces with prison terms of up to life.

Due to coronavirus regulations, Hong Kong's government has banned the annual vigil since 2020. Some democracy activists believe that authorities are utilizing the restrictions to stifle activism, a charge that officials deny.

COVID-19 permits up to eight persons to dine together, while outdoor gatherings are limited to four people.

Last year, authorities shut off a Hong Kong park to prevent people from commemorating the anniversary, and the organizer of the scheduled vigil was arrested.

President Tsai Ing-wen of the Chinese-claimed but strongly democratic Taiwan, whose public commemorations are scheduled for Saturday in Taipei, denounced Hong Kong's "systematic erasure of the communal memory of June 4."

"However, we believe that such force will not be able to erase people's memories," she said on Facebook and Instagram. "When democracy is under assault and authoritarianism grows around the world, we must defend democratic values."

To Beijing's chagrin, Taiwan frequently uses the anniversary of Tiananmen Square to criticize China and encourage it to face up to what it did.

In a statement released on Saturday Asia time, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the Tiananmen Square crackdown as "a barbaric assault."

"These brave folks' actions will not be forgotten. Every year, we recognize and honor those who fought for human rights and fundamental liberties "he stated

"We will not forget June 4 in honor of the Chinese people and those who continue to fight oppression and seek freedom."

At a normal news conference on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian repeated Beijing's position on the events. He stated, "The Chinese government has long since arrived to a clear judgment on the political incident that occurred in the late 1980s."

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