On the anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square, the Hong Kong police detained several pro-democracy activists.
Authorities have prohibited public remembrance of the 1989 incident in which China crushed peaceful protests in Beijing using tanks and troops. Among those detained was 67-year-old activist Alexandra Wong, also known as "Grandma Wong." She was detained while carrying flowers near Victoria Park, where vigils had been held for decades, during a tense evening in Hong Kong.
Former Hong Kong Journalists Association president Mak Yin Ting was also detained and subsequently released. Later, police reported making one arrest and transporting 23 individuals to police stations for investigation. The High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, Volker Turk, voiced alarm over the arrests and demanded the release of anyone detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
DAs a result of the city's semi-autonomous economic, political, and legal structure - known as "one country, two systems" - established when the city was transferred over to China by the United Kingdom in 1997, Hong Kong was the only Chinese city where these commemorations were permitted for decades.
Since the Chinese government enacted a stringent national security law prohibiting numerous forms of dissent in 2020, public commemorations of the anniversary have been prohibited. Ms. Wong was swiftly surrounded by police and driven away from the Causeway Bay neighborhood of Hong Kong on Sunday.
Outside the metro station near Victoria Park, officers set up checkpoints to examine pedestrians, including journalists. In an apparent display of force, two Chinese-made "Sabre-tooth Tiger" armored vehicles have also been stationed in the area.
The city government has also removed books about the Tiananmen Square crackdown from public libraries in preparation for anticipated demonstrations. People detained were holding unlit candles or donning yellow clothing, the color associated with the now-defunct pro-democracy movement.
Four people were arrested on Saturday on suspicion of disrupting public order or acting with seditious intent, both of which are new offenses under the controversial 2020 law.
On Sunday, dozens of candlelight vigils were held all over the globe in memory of those killed by the Chinese military in response to the crackdown. Hundreds of people gathered on Taiwan, the democratic, self-governing island China claims as its territory and has sworn to seize by force if necessary, to commemorate the anniversary.
Crowds in the capital, Taipei, chanted "fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong" in front of a replica of the "Pillar of Shame" - a statue at the University of Hong Kong commemorating the deceased at Tiananmen Square that was removed in 2021.
Many participants also hope that the vigils will preserve the ethos of Hong Kong's once-vibrant civil society and political community, which has largely died out because so many have been imprisoned under the national security law or have fled the city. In 1989, the protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square became the focal point for nationwide demonstrations advocating for greater political freedoms.
Before the military moved in on 4 June and opened fire, tens of thousands of people, the majority of whom were students, camped for weeks in the famous Beijing square. Unidentified footage of a demonstrator obstructing a column of advancing tanks became an international symbol of protest.
According to the Chinese government, 200 civilians and dozens of security personnel died.