(Hong Kong) A Hong Kong park, which has traditionally been a gathering place for the anniversary of the crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, remained empty Friday for the first time in 32 years as police denied access to it.
Police put up barricades around the park and warned against all gatherings, preventing, for the first time, the candlelight vigil usually held at 8 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) to commemorate the bloody crackdown on June 4, 1989 in Beijing.
Any commemoration of this event is prohibited in China, and the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong was the only place in China where it was tolerated.
But with Beijing turning in the face of all opposition in the former British colony, the candlelight vigil was banned this year.
Three police lines around the park blocked entry, stopping and searching anyone approaching the park, while loudspeakers called on crowds in adjacent streets to disperse.
Faced with not being able to get together, some Hong Kong residents have found other ways to celebrate the anniversary.
AFP journalists across town at 8pm noticed little lights in the streets or in the windows, either real candles or mobile phone torches.
Others attended religious services in various churches that announced that they would open their doors for this occasion. “I am not Catholic and usually do not go to church, but I wanted to be there for the occasion, I think it is important to commemorate this event,” explained to AFP a young woman who is simply presented as Beth.