Tens of thousands defy ban to attend Tiananmen vigil in Hong Kong
Updated: 2020-06-05 07:20:05 KST
For the first time ever, a ban had been imposed in Hong Kong for the annual vigil held to commemorate the deadly 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.
Hong Kong officials cited the COVID-19 crisis, but it didn't stop Hong Kong citizens taking to the streets on Thursday to take part in the vigil.
"There must be concerns and worries, everyone must have. But we can't stop commemorating just because we are afraid, or worried. We can only do it step by step. Try our best to safeguard our freedom to march and assemble. And try to remind the people around us, our next generation, and even the older generation how unbearable our regime is."
A few thousand people joined a peaceful rally at Victoria Park, with many wearing masks and chanting slogans such as "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our time" and "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong."
Some lit candles and stood for a minute's silence, as seven Catholic churches opened their doors for the vigil.
This led to the police arresting a group of protesters, after trying to disperse crowds who defied the ban.
Scuffles even broke out briefly in the Mong Kok area, where hundreds had gathered and even tried to set up roadblocks with metal barriers, prompting police to use pepper spray to disperse them.
This year's vigil has become especially sensitive in the former British-ruled city, as China last month imposed tough new national security legislation and passed a bill outlawing shows of disrespect to China's national anthem.
For many of the demonstrators, Thursday was a day to commemorate a painful moment in history, but also a day to voice their concerns for what they say, is the same kind of repression, from the same regime, they're facing now.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.