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Hong Kong performance artists detained on Tiananmen anniversary eve

#Hong #Kong #performance #artists #detained #Tiananmen #anniversary #eve

Police detained at least two performance artists in Hong Kong, according to AFP reporters on Saturday, the eve of the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing.

Discussion of the June 4, 1989 crackdown is highly sensitive to China’s communist leadership, and commemoration of the hundreds killed — by some estimates, more than 1,000 — has long been forbidden in the mainland.

For decades, Hong Kong was the only Chinese city with large-scale public commemoration of the bloody incident, but the annual vigil has been banned following the imposition of a national security law on the city in 2020.

On a busy street in the commercial district of Causeway Bay on Saturday, artist Sanmu Chen repeatedly chanted “Don’t forget June 4! Hong Kong people, don’t be afraid of them!”

An officer shouted at him to “stop doing seditious acts” before authorities bundled him into a police bus.

Another well-known performance artist Chan Mei-tung was also taken away. 

Chan was standing and wandering around the bustling area before she was stopped and searched by police, AFP reporters witnessed.

She had been detained the year before on the anniversary’s eve. Her offending piece last year was whittling a potato into the shape of a candle and holding a lighter to it.

Thousands of candles would be distributed at the now-banned annual Tiananmen vigil.

Police on Saturday also detained a young couple holding white chrysanthemums — a flower typically used to signify loss and mourning.

When asked if they were being arrested, the flower-wielding man said “I have no idea” as he was taken away.

Local media also reported that two other well-known activists — Lau Ka-yee and Kwan Chun-pong — were removed from Victoria Park by police.

Photos published showed that the activists had covered their mouths with red tape while holding a piece of paper.

It read that they were fasting “in mourning for the deceased and victims of 64 (June 4) in respect for Tiananmen Mothers”. 

Hong Kong police have not responded to requests from AFP for information about the Saturday detentions.

– Banned vigil – 

Chinese troops and tanks broke up peaceful protests in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, brutally crushing a weeks-long wave of demonstrations calling for political change.

For decades, the annual candlelight vigil in Victoria Park drew tens of thousands until its ban in 2020.

The vigil’s organiser, Hong Kong Alliance, and its leaders were charged with “incitement to subversion” under the security law, which was imposed to quell the massive and often violent pro-democracy protests that shook the city in 2019.

Victoria Park — which was blocked with metal barriers for the past three years — had a “hometown fair” launched Saturday by pro-Beijing groups to promote products from the mainland. It will run until Monday. 

Leading up to Sunday’s anniversary, officials repeatedly refused to confirm if public mourning of the event was illegal, only saying that “everyone should act in accordance with the law”. 

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#Hong #Kong #performance #artists #detained #Tiananmen #anniversary #eve

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