Chinese authorities tighten security and suppress Tiananmen massacre commemoration – JURIST

Heightened security measures were imposed in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on Tuesday, in response to the 35th anniversary of China’s suppression of pro-democracy protests on the ground. Meanwhile, police in Hong Kong arrested four people and thwarted attempts to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Tuesday’s security measures include the appearance of “bridge keepers,” who prevent the gathering and hanging of banners along overpasses, and increased control over the internet, by banning certain online nicknames and avatars related to June 4. In addition, any visit to Tiananmen Square since June 13, 2023 requires a reservation.

The Tiananmen Square massacre remains a taboo subject in China, and any discussion or mention is quickly deleted from social media platforms. Xu Guang is a lifelong activist who was sentenced to four years in prison in April for his protests against the secrecy of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Hong Kong, traditionally a haven for Tiananmen Square commemorations, faced its own wave of repression as police arrested individuals and restricted public mourning activities. A returning Hong Kong activist known as ‘Grandma Wang’ was among those arrested under these new laws. She was specifically cited under Article 23 for crimes related to seditious intent. Western diplomats showed up unexpectedly at the former wake location.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Lee Ka-chiu stated that “on certain days, all public activities must comply with the laws of Hong Kong, including the Public Security Ordinance, the National Security Law and the Enforcement of the National Security Law. We must remain vigilant against those who seek to destabilize Hong Kong and undermine national security, and ensure that all activities comply with the law.”

As of 2020, the National Security Act has effectively criminalized protests such as those taking place in Victoria Park. Despite the challenges, global solidarity with the victims and their families remains strong, with demonstrations and commemorations in various parts of the world, including Washington, DC and Taipei.

Just before the commemoration, Human Rights Watch denounced China’s repressive tactics and highlighted the continued arrests and prosecution of activists who attempted to commemorate the Tiananmen Square protests. Foreign governments, including the United States, Canada and the European Union, reiterated calls for accountability and urged China to respect human rights.