HONG KONG/TAIPEI, June 4 (Reuters) – Hong Kong police said they arrested 23 people on Sunday for “disturbing public peace” and arrested a 53-year-old woman for “obstructing police officers”. Commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
While restrictions in Hong Kong have prevented large-scale vigils marking the anniversary of a bloody crackdown by Chinese troops on pro-democracy protesters, cities such as Taipei, London, New York and Berlin are keeping the memory of June 4 alive.
Hundreds of police carried out stop-and-search operations near Victoria Park, the site of the previous year’s vigil, and deployed armored vehicles and police vans.
Reuters witnesses saw more than a dozen people being taken away, including 67-year-old activist Alexandra Wong, who carried bouquets of flowers, a copy of “May 35,” a play about the Tiananmen crackdown and an elderly man standing. Alone on the street corner with a candle.
“The regime wants you to forget, but you can’t forget… it (China) wants to whitewash all history,” said Chris Do, 51, wearing a black shirt as he walked into the park and was searched by police.
“We must use our bodies and our words to tell others what happened.”
Police said on Monday that 11 men and 12 women, aged between 20 and 74, were picked up at the scene on suspicion of disturbing the peace.
Hong Kong activists say such police action is part of a broader campaign by China to crush dissent in the city, which was promised 50 years of continued independence under the “one country, two systems” model when Britain handed it back in 1997.
Security has been significantly tightened across Hong Kong this year, with up to 6,000 police, including riot and anti-terror officers, deployed, according to local media.
Senior officials have warned people to abide by the law.
In a statement, police said some were arrested for sedition and “disturbing public peace”.
The United Nations on Monday expressed “alert” over the detention in Hong Kong.
In Beijing, Tiananmen Square was visited by tourists taking pictures under the watchful eye of police and other personnel, but there was no apparent sign of increased security.
A group of relatives called the Tiananmen Mothers said the ordeal never ended.
“Though 34 years have passed, for us as family members of those killed, the pain of losing our loved ones on that one night haunts us to this day,” the group said in a statement published by New York-based Watchdog. Rights in China.
Despite the warnings in Hong Kong, some, including bookshop owners, quietly marked June 4.
Jailed Hong Kong activist Chow Hong-tung, one of the leaders of The Alliance, a group that organized the June 4 vigil, announced on Facebook that he would stage a 34-hour hunger strike.
In mainland China, any mention of the Tiananmen Square crackdown — where troops opened fire on pro-democracy protesters, killing hundreds or thousands, according to rights groups — is banned and the material is heavily censored.
Asked about the government’s response to events around the world to mark the anniversary, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said in Beijing on Friday that the government had come to a “clear conclusion about the political turmoil of the late 1980s.”
In democratically-ruled Taiwan, the last remaining part of the Chinese-speaking world to be free to celebrate the anniversary, hundreds turned out in Taipei’s Liberty Square, where a statue of the “Pillar of Shame” was displayed.
Peggy Kwan, 57, an interpreter for the event, expressed regret at the shutdown of commemorations in Hong Kong.
“Hong Kong is moving backwards,” he said.
China claims Taiwan as its own and has not abandoned the use of force to ensure eventual reunification. Taiwan Vice President William Lai, the presidential candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, wrote on his Facebook page that the elections next January should remember what happened in Beijing in 1989.
“The June 4 commemoration event continues to be held in Taipei, which shows that the biggest differences between Taiwan and China are democracy and dictatorship,” he said.
In Sydney, one of more than 30 places holding commemorations in North America, Europe and Asia, dozens of demonstrators gathered at the town hall, chanting “Free Hong Kong” while carrying banners and yellow umbrellas, symbols of pro-democracy protests. Since 2014.
Additional reporting by Yu Lun Tian in Beijing, Joyce Cho and Farah Master in Hong Kong; Angie Teo in Taipei; James Redmayne in Sydney; By James Pomfret; Editing by Nick MacPhee, Stephen Coates and Edmund Claman
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Jesse Bong joined Reuters in 2019 after an internship. He covers Hong Kong politics and general news.