June 6, 2022
TOKYO – living in Japan held a vigil on a sidewalk near Shinjuku Station in Tokyo on Saturday evening to preserve Hong Kong’s tradition of honoring the Tiananmen victims, 33 years to the day of the deadly crackdown.
China’s military crackdown on protesters demanding democracy in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square took place on June 4, 1989.
The activists in Tokyo also hoped to highlight ongoing oppression by Beijing on pro-democracy activists and residents in Hong Kong.
“Please pay attention to China’s human rights issues,” one participant called out to passersby in Japanese. “We can now hold this vigil in the free nation of Japan, but the horror of losing freedom is already a reality in Hong Kong.”
In Hong Kong, public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square crackdown was banned for the third consecutive year, with authorities citing the pandemic as a reason. Beijing has been tightening its grip over the semiautonomous city after it forced a national security law on Hong Kong in 2020. To this day, many pro-democracy activists continue to be jailed.
In mainland China, the Chinese Communist Party has always suppressed any commemoration of the Tiananmen crackdown as it continues to downplay the incident. But in Hong Kong, a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in the heart of the city had been carried out for three decades, even after the United Kingdom handed the city back to China in 1997. This seemed to symbolize Hong Kong’s freedom promised under China’s “one country, two systems” policy.
According to reports from Hong Kong, Victoria Park was blocked off by police on Saturday. Some people were arrested for trying to commemorate Tiananmen by, for example, wearing a T-shirt with a message related to the crackdown.
A participant at the Tokyo vigil said: “Hong Kongers living overseas have to keep voicing our demands for freedom and democracy, as it is getting almost impossible for people in Hong Kong to do so. But we want people around the world to know that Hong Kongers have not given up.”