Advertisement
Share

Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Square massacre museum shuts three days after opening

Officers questioning staff at Tiananmen Square massacre museum
Officers question staff members at the newly opened June 4 Memorial Museum in Hong Kong, which commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
(Vincent Yu / Associated Press)

A Hong Kong museum commemorating China’s deadly 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests closed Wednesday — just three days after opening — as the ruling Communist Party tries to stamp out the last traces of public discussion of the event.

Hong Kong was the last place on Chinese soil where the June 4, 1989, massacre of protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was commemorated with candlelight vigils and other events. But authorities have banned public ceremonies for the second year amid a campaign by Beijing to crush pro-democracy activism in the city.

Organizers of the June 4 Memorial Museum said it closed after authorities investigated whether it had licenses to conduct public exhibitions. The Hong Kong Alliance of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China said it wanted to protect staff and visitors while the group sought legal advice. The group said the museum had received more than 550 visitors since it opened Sunday.

Public memorials of the Tiananmen Square massacre have long been banned on the Chinese mainland. Relatives of people who were killed often are detained or harassed by authorities ahead of the anniversary.

Thousands of people are fleeing Hong Kong amid a crackdown by Beijing that prompted Britain to loosen visa rules for residents of its former colony.

Advertisement

In previous years, thousands of people have gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to light candles and sing in memory of the hundreds, and possibly thousands, of people who died when Chinese troops and tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square.

Hong Kong authorities have banned the vigil for the second consecutive year, citing social-distancing restrictions and public health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic. But critics accuse officials of using the pandemic as an excuse to silence pro-democracy voices.

Last year, thousands gathered in Victoria Park despite the ban and police warnings. Weeks later, more than 20 activists who took part in the vigil were arrested. This year, organizers have urged residents to mark June 4 by lighting a candle wherever they are.

Beijing has been steadily tightening control over Hong Kong, prompting complaints that it is eroding the autonomy promised when the former British colony returned to China in 1997. Pro-democracy activists have been sentenced to prison under a national security law imposed following anti-government protests that began in 2019.


Advertisement