Tiananmen Square anniversary: US says victims ‘will not be forgotten’ as Hong Kong bans unlawful gatherings

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday paid tribute to the victims of China’s “brutal crackdown” on pro-democracy demonstrators on the 33rd anniversary of Tiananmen Square.

In a statement on Saturday Asia time, Mr Blinken said: “The efforts of these brave individuals will not be forgotten. Each year, we honour and remember those who stood up for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Saturday (4 June) marks the anniversary of Chinese troops opening fire on unarmed, pro-democracy protestors who were part of a student-led unrest in and around the iconic square.

In the wake of the 1989 massacre, Chinese authorities have continued to ban any public commemoration of the event on the mainland.

“While many are no longer able to speak up themselves, we and many around the world continue to stand up on their behalf and support their peaceful efforts to promote democracy and the rights of individuals,” Mr Blinked added.

“To the people of China and to those who continue to stand against injustice and seek freedom, we will not forget 4 June,” his statement concluded.

At a routine news conference in Beijing earlier this week, the spokesman for China’s foreign ministry reiterated the government’s position regarding any events commemorating the Tiananmen Square protest, saying that it had arrived at a “clear conclusion about the political incident”.

Hong Kong police said late on Friday that part of Victoria Park – where these commemorations have previously been organised – would be shut down, adding that people should refrain from participating in “unauthorised assemblies and prohibited gatherings” in light of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Police will deploy adequate manpower in relevant locations tomorrow and take resolute action to enforce the law, including making arrests. The public should not defy the law,” they added.

Activists are scheduled to assemble in Taiwan’s capital Taipei later on Saturday to commemorate the anniversary. Taipei is likely the only part of the Chinese-speaking world where such a public event will take place. However, large-scale commemorations have been organised in Hong Kong in the past.

Taiwan’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council on Friday called on Beijing “to address the historical facts of the Tiananmen Square incident with sincerity, embark on political reforms (and) implement democratic governance”.

In 2020, China imposed a new, stringent national security law on Hong Kong, punishing acts of subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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