The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China have made plans to open the world’s first museum dedicated to the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, but it seems as if other forces at hand are doing whatever they can to prevent its opening later this month.
According to its original plan, the museum was set to open in an 800 sq ft space located in Tsim Sha Tsui’s Foo Hoo Centre, purchased by the organization last December for more than HK$ 9.7 million. The opening date, April 20th, was set to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the incident. Everything seemed to be going smoothly, until a letter appeared last month from a lawyer associated with the tower block’s owners committee: According to the letter, the museum might violate the tower’s “deeds of covenant” which states that the space “should only be used for offices.” Additionally, the alliance’s vice-chairman Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong pointed out, the letter “also warned that the museum might cause nuisance to other tenants as it could draw a huge number of visitors.”
According to reports by SCMP on the matter, it appears as if the alliance has called BS and is planning to call said lawyer’s bluff: “We are confident that we stand on firm legal ground,” says Alliance chairman Lee Cheuk-yan. “The museum could only cater to tens of visitors at a time and we believe it would not cause any inconvenience to other tenants.”
This incident is but one in a series of pro-Beijing forces’ attempts to suppress any commemoration for the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen incident. According to a report by Radio Free Asia, members of the Tiananmen Mothers advocacy group, “which represents all victims of the crackdown who died or were maimed”, claimed that they were prevented from visiting the graves of loved ones over the Qingming (“Tomb Sweeping”) Holiday . Political activists have also been advised to not make any public memorial to mark the crackdown.
As for the Foo Hoo Centre’s claim on the Tiananmen museum, lawyer Daniel Wong Kwok-tung said that the lawyer’s definition of a “commercial enterprise” was too narrow, and a majority of tenants would have to prove the museum was a nuisance before any legal action was taken.
Cheuk-yan added: “There isn’t any June 4 memorial museum in the world. This would be something for Hongkongers to be proud of and I hope people can accept having it in their building.”
By Alex Stevens