After being jailed on suspicion of advertising a commemoration of China’s catastrophic crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, a Hong Kong activist was released on Saturday, claiming her arrest was intended to chill commemorations of the anniversary. Chow Hang Tung has previously assisted in the organization of candlelight vigils, and her detention on Friday fell on the 32nd anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Chow was arrested on charges of publicizing an unauthorized assembly, according to police. Authorities in the semi-autonomous Chinese city cited pandemic-related physical-distance constraints as the reason for the prohibition for the second year in a row. Chow claimed that her imprisonment was based on a “quantum leap of reasoning” and that authorities wanted to “frighten” people into not commemorating the Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Those seeking to block the remembrance were “supporting and solidifying this illegitimate one-party dictatorship” and “covering up the crimes of the murders in 1989,” she claimed. Chow is a founding member of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of China’s Patriotic Democratic Movements, which is responsible for organizing the yearly vigil at Victoria Park.
She recently stated that, despite the restriction, she would continue to go to the park on her own and encourage others to burn candles wherever they were. When China’s military put down student-led pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, hundreds, if not thousands, of people died. China’s ruling Communist Party has never authorized public commemorations of the occasion on the mainland. Officials in China have said that the country’s tremendous economic growth since the “political instability” of 1989 indicates that judgments made at the time were justified.
Despite the fact that police cordoned off parts of Victoria Park and arrested Chow on Friday, hundreds of Hong Kong residents gathered to wander around the park’s perimeter. Many people wore black and used flashlights on their phones instead of candles. Street stalls were set up all around the city, and small groups gathered in various spots to light candles.
As of 11.30 p.m. Friday, at least six people four men and two women ranging in age from 20 to 75 had been arrested across Hong Kong. They were arrested on charges of instigating others to join an unauthorized assembly, common assault, criminal damage, disorderly behavior in a public place, and police obstruction.