China tightened access to Tiananmen Square in central Beijing on Sunday, the anniversary of the military suppression of 1989 pro-democracy protests that left a still unknown number of people dead and discussions and commemorations forbidden within the country.
In Hong Kong, which was the last Chinese-controlled territory to hold commemorations, eight people, including activists and artists, were detained on the eve of the anniversary, underscoring the city’s shrinking room for freedom of expression. Police said late Sunday they arrested a woman for allegedly obstructing police officers in performing their duties and took 23 other people away on suspicion of breaching public peace for further investigation.
Many of them were detained by officers around Victoria Park, the large public space of lawns and sports grounds that used to be the scene of an annual candlelight gathering to remember the hundreds or thousands killed when army tanks and infantry descended on central Beijing on the night of June 3 and into the morning of June 4, 1989.
Discussion of the seven weeks of student-led protests that attracted workers and artists and their violent resolution has long been suppressed in China. It also became increasingly off-limits in Hong Kong since a sweeping national security law was imposed in 2020, effectively barring anyone from holding memorial events.
The death toll from the 1989 violence remains unknown and the Communist Party relentlessly harasses those at home or overseas who seek to keep the memory of the events alive.