Signs and posters laden with threats were found in front of seven Catholic churches in Hong Kong last week where people planned to gather and commemorate the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Asia News reported that images of Cardinal Joseph Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong, were displayed on the signs along with warnings not to celebrate mass for Tiananmen. The posters stood as a reminder that public gatherings violate the communist restrictions imposed on the formerly free city of Hong Kong last year under a new “national security” law.
The security law criminalizes acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers to intervene in the city’s affairs. Serious offenders could face up a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
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Some say the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is behind the threats, and concerns over the pandemic are simply an excuse used by the government to crackdown on pro-democracy groups.
Even though authorities tried to ban the annual candlelight vigil Friday night – citing COVID-19 safety measures – groups of people started gathering around 8 p.m. near Hong Kong’s Victoria Park.
Police arrested activist Chow Hang-tung, vice chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, who helped organize the vigil.
Those close to Chow said the police allegations against her were directed toward a Facebook post she wrote on May 29 about the vigil and lighting a candle for the fallen.
“On June 4 this year, let us keep using candlelight to fight for justice for the dead and guard the dignity of the living,” she wrote.
By the evening, thousands of police officers stood in riot gear near and around Victoria Park while checking the identification of bystanders.
One local said it would be safer to commemorate the occasion from home.
“I’ve attended the June 4 vigil for decades but this year we have to hide in our homes and go on Zoom for a prayer meeting. I felt cowardly and useless,” Lau said. “But in our hearts, we are still insisting on the truth.”
Many of the freedom-loving people of Hong Kong – who had long identified with those who called for freedom in Tiananmen Square – now fear the Chinese government is silencing Hong Kong dissenters much as they did in mainland China in 1989.
Pray for those who are persecuted for remembering the Tiananmen Square Massacre and its countless victims, as well as those who continue to suffer under the communist Chinese government’s oppressive policies.