June 16. 2021. 8:44

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Authorities in Hong Kong arrest organiser of Tiananmen Square vigil

Chow Hang Tung speaks to media outside a court in Hong Kong on May 6th. File photograph: AP

One of the organisers of an annual candlelight vigil for the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre has been arrested, media in Hong Kong said.

Public broadcaster RTHK and others reported Chow Hang Tung, the vice chair of The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, was arrested by police early on Friday.

It is not clear why Ms Chow was arrested, and police have yet to comment on the matter.

The committee organises the vigil and ran a museum dedicated to the 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

The vigil, in the Chinese territory, has been cancelled by city authorities for a second year, and the museum was closed this week.

The annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong typically attracts tens of thousands of people to remember those who died in Beijing on June 4th 1989, when the People’s Liberation Army crushed protests by pro-democracy demonstrators and their supporters in the Chinese capital.

While last year’s vigil was banned by Hong Kong police on public health grounds as the territory battled the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of people still converged to light candles as police looked on.

This year’s gathering, which would have been held on Friday, has also been banned because of the pandemic. But activists believe Hong Kongers will be less likely to engage in another act of mass defiance after the imposition of a National Security Law last year that contains harsh penalties for subversion and other crimes against the state.

The vigil, held since 1990, is seen as highly symbolic of Hong Kong’s freedoms, showcasing the city’s spirit of independence to the rest of the world. It had become one of the most important annual events for pro-democracy groups, with families attending to light candles and sing songs. – PA