Hong Kong police crackdown on protesters marking Tiananmen Anniversary

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Hong Kong police detained several pro-democracy figures, AFP reporters said on Sunday, the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, including the leader of a key opposition party.

Chan Po-ying, a veteran activist and head of the League of Social Democrats, was in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay shopping district -- an area that for years was the site of commemorations of the bloody June 4, 1989 crackdown in China.

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Holding a small LED candle -- a common sight during the annual vigil -- and two flowers, Chan was immediately seized by police and hauled into a van.

Earlier Sunday, Alexandra Wong, a prominent democracy activist better known as “Grandma Wong,” was also taken away. The 67-year-old was carrying flowers at the time.

Veteran journalist Mak Yin-ting, the former chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, was also detained at Causeway Bay.

In total, AFP reporters have seen at least 10 people detained on Sunday in the commercial district.

One of them was a woman who shouted, “Raise candles! Mourn 64!”-- shorthand for the sensitive date.

Another was a young man dressed in black who carried a book titled “35th of May,” another way to express the four days after May 31 in mainland China.

For decades Hong Kong was the only Chinese city with large-scale public commemoration of the Tiananmen events -- a key index of liberties and political pluralism afforded to its semi-autonomous status.

Since 1990, an annual vigil had been held in the city’s Victoria Park, drawing tens of thousands to a candlelight memorial.

But in 2020, a national security law was imposed on the city by Beijing to quell dissent, after huge and at times violent pro-democracy demonstrations rocked the finance hub.

Since then, the vigil has been banned and its organizers arrested and charged under the security law.

Leading up to this year’s anniversary, officials repeatedly refused to confirm if public mourning of the event was illegal, only saying that “everyone should act in accordance with the law.”

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