June 4 35th 35th commemoration rally in London

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On the past Sunday (June 2), a young dissenting singer from China sang “Memory Is a Crime’, a Cantonese song commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, at Westminster Square in London. The lyrics of the song simply reflect today’s circumstances in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, June 4th is now considered a forbidden word. The June 4 candlelight vigil has been banned, and the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (HK Alliance) has been forced to dissolve. Its chairman, Lee Cheuk-yan, and two vice-chairpersons, Albert Ho and Chow Hang-tung, are currently in detention on charge of violating the National Security Law. As we approach this ‘sensitive date’, several individuals, including Chow and two former HK Alliance committee members, have been arrested on charges of acting with seditious intention after posting memories relating to June 4th on social media.

While candlelight may no longer illuminate Victoria Park in Hong Kong, the regime’s suppression of public grieving on June 4 will never rewrite history or silence the voices of the world who refuse to forget. This year, 35 years after June 4, nearly 300 people gathered in London’s Westminster Square to observe a 64-second moment of silence, commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Christopher Mung, the Executive Director of Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor, stated that despite facing political prosecution, the chairman of the HK Alliance, Lee Cheuk-yan, and the two vice-chairpersons, Albert Ho and Chow Hang-tung, remain steadfast in seeking justice for June 4. Mung encourages Hong Kongers living abroad, who enjoy freedom, to take on greater responsibility and stand in solidarity with those facing unjust prosecutions in Hong Kong. He further emphasised that the annual June 4th commemorative events show Hong Kongers’ unwavering commitment to truth and give a voice to those in China who are prohibited from mourning.

 ‘This includes the Tiananmen Mothers, who lost their children during the crackdown. Every year, they find consolidation and strength among the flickering candles at Victoria Park. On behalf of everyone, I want to pledge that the Tiananmen Mothers will never fight alone, even though the HK Alliance has been forced to disband, and the June 4 candlelight vigil has been prohibited in Hong Kong. We shall continue to stand firm with the Tiananmen Mothers. Our fight is not only for the dead but also for the living. No one should live in fear of dictatorship. Everyone should enjoy the freedom and democracy they deserve. We must echo the student’s demands in 1989 and carry on the struggle for democracy. We will fight till the end in solidarity,’ he said.

Peiqing Ni, the founder of the China Deviants, emphasised that the Tiananmen Square Massacre should not be seen as a past event. The sacrifices made on that day serve as a warning to all, demonstrating the consequences of freedom being taken away. She points out that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continues to suppress democracy and freedom, including monitoring and intimidating dissidents abroad. The CCP uses various methods to threaten dissidents overseas, launch cyberattacks, and harass their family members who remain in China, all with the aim of silencing dissidents at any cost. She calls on everyone to continue paying attention to oppressed Chinese dissidents overseas, encouraging them to speak out without fear.

Sacha Deshmukh, the Executive Director of Amnesty International UK, underlined that commemorating June 4 is not only a tribute to those who gave their lives in Tiananmen Square 35 years ago but also a show of respect to people fighting for human rights in Tibet, China, and Hong Kong. He highlighted recent developments in Hong Kong, including the Court of Appeal’s ruling in favour of the “Glory to Hong Kong” temporary ban appeal, the passage of Article 23 legislation under the Basic Law, and the verdict in the case of the 47 activists. These developments ‘highlight just how quickly, in such a short time, we’ve seen the disintegration of human rights’. Additionally, last month, Amnesty International reported that China had the highest number of executions globally in the previous year, while another report highlighted the Chinese government’s ongoing monitoring, intimidation, and harassment of Chinese students studying abroad. Deshmukh encourages everyone to continue standing up and supporting the protesters imprisoned, monitored, or exiled in Tibet, Hong Kong, and China for defending human rights, so that Chinese authorities cannot suppress their voice. ‘We’re here today and all speaking so loudly, because it sends a message. It sends a message that the world is not convinced when the Chinese government seeks to mislead the world about the suppression of human rights experience by its own citizens, whether on that bloody night in Tiananmen Square 35 years ago or today in Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong,’ he said.

Former 1989 protest student leader Feng-suo Zhou thanked the brave Hong Kongers who joined the rally. He displayed a towel used 35 years ago to wipe away the blood of students shot in Tiananmen Square, as well as a T-shirt with the words ‘Democracy and Freedom’ written on it. Finally, Zhou held a copy of Apple Daily, which covered the Hong Kong June 4 candlelight vigil, and said, ‘This is why we always thank the people of Hong Kong. It is everyone’s persistence that makes June 4 not be forgotten,’

Even though the candlelight in Victoria Park on June 4th is no longer there, those of us fortunate enough to stand in the overseas parliament square, which allows voices supporting Taiwan’s democracy and Ukraine’s survival at war with Russia to live side by side, should unite, watch out for one another, and continue to spread the voices that uphold truth. Fearless, we find strength in each other.