By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, June 4: A Hong Kong pro-democracy alliance on Saturday lost an appeal to hold the annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4. The 1989 Tiananmen massacre will not be commemorated for the second year in a row after the Hong Kong police banned the event after citing Covid-19 restrictions.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China had planned the event on Friday for the public. “We have to apologize to the public. Hong Kong Alliance can no longer organize the candlelight vigil this year in a lawful manner. We will stop promoting the vigil. On that day, we won’t, as an organization and members of Hong Kong Alliance, appear and join,” Organizer Richard Tsoi told Reuters.
Despite a ban last year on the annual vigil to mark the Tiananmen Square Massacre, thousands marked the event in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Tsoi added that he believed Hong Kong people would still commemorate the massacre. However, Hong Kong’s Security Bureau welcomed the ban and consequently said in a statement that taking part in any “unauthorized assembly” on Friday carries a maximum sentence of 5 years under Hong Kong law, adding that advertising the vigil would entail a 12-month jail sentence.
Liauw Ka-kei, senior Superintendent of the Hong Kong Island Region, said that police believed that the vigil could increase the risk of spreading coronavirus, as well as “jeopardizing public safety and affecting the rights of others.” He further remarked that the police would adopt a zero-tolerance approach and take action against anyone breaching the law.
The vigil has been banned as Hong Kong authorities continue to crackdown on dissent following the months-long pro-democracy demonstrations that began in 2019. Prominent activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai was also sentenced on Friday for another 14-month period for his role in the protests.