Tiananmen crackdown commemorations foiled by large Hong Kong police deployment

Hundreds of police officers were stationed around Victoria Park and Causeway Bay to thwart commemorating acts. Image: Kyle Lam/HKFP

This report was written by Tom Grundy, Mercedes Hutton, Kelly Ho, Irene Chan, Hans Tse and James Lee and originally published in Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) on May 20, 2024. An edited version is published below as part of a content partnership agreement with HKFP.

Hong Kong saw a large police deployment on the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, with several people detained around Causeway Bay.

Officers were stationed across the shopping district near Victoria Park, which once hosted remembrance vigils attended by tens of thousands of people. An armoured vehicle was also spotted near SOGO mall, as part of an apparent operation to thwart commemorative activity.

A heavy police presence was also seen on Great George Street, the officers ordering passers-by to keep moving as dozens of reporters and photographers arrived near dusk.

Police patrol through Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, on June 4, 2024, the 35th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Executive John Lee did not directly address whether there were legal ways to commemorate the crackdown on June 4, 1989, when hundreds, perhaps thousands, were killed as the People’s Liberation Army violently dispersed protesters in Beijing, following months of student-led demonstrations.

On Tuesday afternoon, an elderly man was seen displaying hand-written posters relating to democracy and the crackdown. One placard, titled “Two Shores, Three Territories,” included a list of social movements dating back to 1919, from the May Fourth movement to the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, the Umbrella Movement and Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement in 2014, and Hong Kong’s 2019 protests, as shown in the following video via @hkposter777 from X, formerly Twitter:

He was taken away by police, according to The Collective, but later released.

ReNews also reported on Tuesday that elderly democracy activist Alexandra Wong had been surrounded by police and taken to a police vehicle after she shouted “People will not forget,” near Causeway Bay MTR station at around 3 p.m.

HKFP reporters witnessed several arrests: a man dressed in black near Victoria Park and a woman wearing sunglasses near SOGO mall around 5:40 p.m.

Inside Victoria Park, HKFP saw a young man taken away:

The presence of more than 30 journalists outside the Great George Street exit of the Causeway Bay MTR station attracted curiosity from passers-by, including mainland Chinese tourists. Some asked the journalists what they were covering, while others asked if celebrities were about to show up.

References to the Tiananmen crackdown have been heavily censored in mainland China, meaning that most of the country's 1.4 billion citizens have no idea of what happened on June 4, 1989.

Police stop a woman with a torch shining from her mobile phone in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, on June 4, 2024, the 35th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

In the shopping district, police stopped and searched a woman whose mobile phone had its torch function turned on. Officers asked her where she was going, and she told them she was in Causeway Bay to eat ramen.

A member of staff from the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macau arrived in Causeway Bay at around 7 pm. He was swarmed by journalists as he passed by SOGO mall but did not make any statement.

Diplomats were also seen walking outside Victoria Park on Tuesday evening, followed by throngs of press.

Diplomats walk past Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, on June 4, 2024, the 35th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

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