Police show of force at Victoria Park

Police will cordon off part of Victoria Park and deploy up to 7,000 officers across the city today amid online calls to commemorate the June 4 incident, sources said.

Of the officers, some 3,000 will be deployed at the park in Causeway Bay, where the annual candlelight vigil used to take place. Police may also cite the Public Order Ordinance to cordon off the park if people start to gather in the evening.

The deployment plan follows a call by Tiananmen Mothers, which said remembering June 4 is a patriotic act and should not be banned on political grounds.

“I understand and respect authorities’ decision to ban the memorial on public health grounds, but it would be unacceptable if it is due to other reasons unrelated to the pandemic,” spokeswoman You Weijie said.

“A candlelight vigil does not have any conflict with the national security law as it is a patriotic behavior and everyone should condemn the government back then for blatantly trampling upon the law.”

A founding member of the group, Zhang Xianling, said she had expected the ban on the memorial.

“When memorials are held in Hong Kong, it [annoys Beijing] yet there is nothing the central government can do due to one country, two systems. But now authorities have the pandemic as an excuse, and they can cancel it easily,” Zhang said.

But Zhang said she has faith in Hongkongers: “Perhaps the vigil can’t be held, but I believe in the hearts of Hong Kong people there will always be a candlelight, a righteous candlelight.”

Some people are urging the public to commemorate the 1989 incident in their own way, including lighting candles on the window or on the street tonight.

For the first time, organizer Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China has made no appeal for people to turn up at Victoria Park for the vigil.

It stopped promoting the vigil after an appeal board upheld the police ban on the event citing public health concerns. The board said people can keep memories alive in other ways.

Former alliance chairman Lee Cheuk-yan, currently serving an 18-month jail sentence for taking part in unlawful assemblies in October 2019, made a call on his social media page for Hongkongers to light candles “in places that can be seen.”

Lee added: “Hong Kong is undergoing controls and manipulations similar to those in the mainland. Hongkongers have never [experienced something like the] June 4 incident.”

The alliance said it is looking to launch an online version of the June 4th Museum in Mong Kok after it suspended its operation following a raid by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which said it had no license. But the physical museum is still important, said Mak Hoi-wah, chairman of its management committee, as he questioned the FEHD for being “selective in enforcing the law.” It was the first time the museum, which opened in 2012, was raided.

Meanwhile, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese will hold masses at 8 tonight in seven churches in memory of the victims of the June 4 incident. Banners appeared outside two of the churches yesterday, saying “evil cults are invading religions.”

Local artist Kacey Wong Kwok-choi has collected hundreds of spent candle stubs from previous vigils and plans to give them away tonight at clothing brand Chickeeduck, which also sells pro-democracy merchandise.

“Each candle contains a person’s mourning for those who sacrificed themselves in pursuit of democracy,” he said.

Executive Council member Ronny Tong Ka-wah said holding a candle should be fine, but shouting slogans like “end one-party dictatorship” at the scene would risk breaching the national security law.

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