In 1989, authorities armed with assault rifles accompanied by tanks fired at millions of student-led pro-democracy, demonstrators killing thousands and arresting most others. Every year in Hong Kong, pro-democracy advocates commemorate the massacre by hosting a vigil that marks the June anniversary. Recently, Hong Kong is upping its crackdown, not just on pro-democratic demonstrations, but also on the memory of them.
Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy advocate Jimmy Lai was present at both the massacre itself and its succeeding annual vigils. He and another democratic activist, a former Hong Kong lawmaker named Leung Yiu-chung, were charged at the banned 2020 vigil, and both say they will contest incitement charges, while 10 others say they will plead guilty.
The 2020 and 2021 vigils were banned for the first time in three decades, with police citing health concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last Friday, the 12 charged from the past vigil returned to the Hong Kong District Court for another hearing before District Judge Ko King-Sau.
Leung Yiu-chung denied charges related to participation in the unauthorized assembly. In addition, he and Lai agreed they would not plead guilty to the charge of inciting others to partake in the assembly.
They stand trial on Nov. 1 with former Democratic Party Chairman Qu Chi-wai, activist Gwyneth Ho Kwai-lamalong, along with four members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, the organizer of the vigils. They too, will not plead guilty to the charges.
Six others have also been charged on differing accounts for attending the vigil.
The Tiananmen Square massacres were scarring enough to the Chinese people and their hurt is exacerbated by Hong Kong’s criminal charges of a mere memory. Censorship in Communist China now seeps into the memory of the Chinese tragedy. This censorship threatens to wipe out entire swaths of Chinese culture and memory.
The destruction of democratic principles are another facet of the Chinese Communist Party’s never-ending pursuit of absolute control.