China issued stern warnings to Western envoys against the public commemoration of the 33rd anniversary of the horrific Tiananmen Square massacre. According to a European ambassador based in Hong Kong, the Beijing Foreign Ministry sent out letters to the embassy offices in Hong Kong and Macau, urging them to refrain from “tweeting/retweeting or publicly making a statement about June 4,” South China Morning Post reported. This comes after Hong Kong Police announced a ban on the annual vigil in the city to commemorate the victims of the 1989 mass execution.
Dozens of police patrolled Victoria Park in Hong Kong on Saturday after authorities banned the three-decades-long public commemoration event. While Chinese authorities used COVID-19 as a reason to call off public gatherings, critics, as quoted by the Associated Press, said that quelling public sentiment for the victims of Tiananmen Square is a sign of tightened political suppression in Hong Kong. This is the third consecutive year that Beijing has snubbed the candlelight vigil in Hong Kong since the implementation of the National Security Law in 2020.
For the unversed, the annual candlelight vigil in Hong Kong used to be held every year until 2020 to remember the slaughtered pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. According to reports, several hundred were shot at by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in compliance with CCP’s order to curtail the 50-day-long running protests.
According to the SCMP report, despite being semi-autonomous, Hong Kong and Macau are the only cities that held a public vigil to mourn the grisly massacre. However, the since the NSL -which forbids acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces- the authorities warned that any march linked to the commemoration will be labelled “illegal activity” and any social message on the same will be considered an “act of incitement.” China also went far off to censor keywords like “Tiananmen massacre” and “June 4” to quell social outrage.
US, Taiwan criticise crackdown on commemoration
On the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, US State Secretary Antony Blinken on Friday accused China of trying to “erase history” by continuing to threaten human rights within its mainland and Hong Kong. Remembering the victims of the “mass killings”, Blinken noted that the situation is barely different today, “the struggle for democracy and freedom continues to echo in Hong Kong”. The remarks by the US top diplomat comes after Beijing banned the annual vigil to suppress the commemoration of the massacre.
“The efforts of these brave individuals will not be forgotten. Each year, we honour and remember those who stood up for human rights and fundamental freedoms…,” Blinken said in a statement.
The US State Secretary also called out Beijing for the alleged human rights abuses committed in Hong Kong, Tibet, and Xinjiang. “We will continue to speak out and promote accountability for the authorities of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) and human rights abuses,” he said. Blinken remembered the fallen protestors and reaffirmed US’ commitment to upholding human rights even if they are threatened “by some.” He also hailed the rights activists who “continue to stand up” on the behalf of the pro-democracy supporters who were at the protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989.