Well, it turns out that Hong Kong did host its annual vigil to the victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown as thousands of people defied government orders and fences to gather in Victoria Park.
The yearly vigil had technically been canceled after the Hong Kong government extended coronavirus-inspired regulations against large-scale public gatherings. One of its organizers had spoken about possibly having people around the city light up candles outside their homes on the night of June 4.
Instead, people decided to just push over the metal fences surrounding Victoria Park and have their usual vigil anyway.
Here’s some images and videos:
A large crowd has gathered in Victoria Park in #HongKong for the annual #June4th Vigil. There were fences initially blocking entry to the park. This year is the first in 31 years the vigil has been banned, citing the coronavirus. Police vans are on standby near the park. pic.twitter.com/mrqE8EEjuO
— Michael Zhang 張雨軒 (@YuxuanMichael) June 4, 2020
— Rachel Blundy (@rachelblundy) June 4, 2020
Freedom-loving Hong Kongers commemorate the Tiananmen Square Massacre while respecting social distancing guidelines. When there’s a will, there’s a way. 🕯 pic.twitter.com/wd7ndXR26o
— Jason Y. Ng (@jasonyng) June 4, 2020
Hong Kong, China, June 4 2020 pic.twitter.com/zgX6D3YEeI
— Will Hayward (@willhayward_nz) June 4, 2020
“One nation, one Hong Kong” pic.twitter.com/eizh7VrJ0O
— Linda Lew 刘凌达 (@Lindadalew) June 4, 2020
— Jimmy Lai (@JimmyLaiApple) June 4, 2020
Apple Daily has provided snapshots from each year of the vigil, showing the relative size of the crowd. Last year, organizers said that 180,000 people flocked to the park.
Our conscience, our freedom, our rights are the core values & the soul of #HongKong. We'll show everyone that our soul is strong enough to withstand fear. No matter how strong the “north wind” is, WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN, and we won't let the #June4th candlelight be extinguished. pic.twitter.com/lWDgVw8ZdA
— 香港蘋果日報 Apple Daily Hong Kong (@appledaily_hk) June 4, 2020
Meanwhile, in other places around the city, people also defied the government ban by gathering together with candles lit.
The Victoria Park vigil isn’t the only memorial service for the 6.4 Tiananmen Massacre in Hong Kong tonight. Following the vigil ban, organisers arranged alternative events across the city. Pictured are attendees in Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan, Mong Kok & Tai Wai. 📸: @AppleDaily_HK pic.twitter.com/D1XfO9YHJy
— Jack Hazlewood (@JackHHazlewood) June 4, 2020
This is what’s happening in Mongkok. pic.twitter.com/7xm4qIgrne
— Lilian Cheng (@cwylilian) June 4, 2020
While police made no move against those in Victoria Park, there were arrests made over in Mong Kok as undercover officers were seen using pepper spray and force to subdue several of those at the impromptu vigil.
Arrests in Mong Kok by plainclothes undercover police outside Langham Place as commemoration was ongoing; objects were seen on the road, potentially what triggered police action pic.twitter.com/HkWDMB5fJ6
— Kris Cheng (@krislc) June 4, 2020
Though this may all seem like a victory for the pro-democracy crowd in Hong Kong, many are worried that this will be the last Tiananmen vigil allowed in the city as China moves to implement controversial new national security laws in the semi-autonomous region.
The laws were approved last week by China’s rubber-stamp parliament, they would allow Beijing to install its own security agencies in the city for the first time while prohibiting sedition, subversion, and secession along with foreign interference in Hong Kong affairs.
1. 31 years ago, Beijing crushed dissents with tanks and guns. 31 years later, Beijing is ripping out our democratic aspiration with a tyrannical law. pic.twitter.com/Dx3xTmI5Vo
— Joshua Wong 黃之鋒 😷 (@joshuawongcf) June 4, 2020