City authorities had threatened to impose the national security law on anyone who tried to start the vigil around Victoria Park
Hong Kong’s historic Victoria Park which traditionally holds the Tiananmen Square vigil usually attended by thousands of people each year was blocked by security officials on Friday as the venue lay empty for the first time in decades.
Security was ramped up ahead of the anniversary as city authorities posted thousands of security men to keep people from entering the vigil area and warned people not to venture outside citing coronavirus restrictions even some some protesters said they would still protest.
City authorities had threatened to impose the national security law on anyone who tried to start the vigil around Victoria Park as police chief Liauw Ka Kei, Hong Kong’s top police official said his forces “will use whatever measures in order to maintain the public order and public safety.”
The heavily barricaded Victoria Park which has been the epicentre of protests for several years was almost forgotten as security officials clampdown the area even as some reports said people protested at home in their individual capacity, however, the rallying cry against China on the streets which was a feature in earlier years wasn’t to be seen anywhere in the city.
Liauw Ka Kei insisted that “unauthorised assembly is an offence” which would carry a penalty of a maximum of five years imprisonment. People in Hong Kong have been observing the day since the 1990s even after Britain handed it over to China in 1997. Any reference to the event is banned in mainland China.
Hong Kong police had moved early on Friday to detain activist Chow Hang-tung ,37, in a bid to quell any protests. Chow who is a lawyer has held candlelight vigils in Victoria Park each year. Chow’s Hong Kong Alliance said it won’t hold the vigil this year after her arrest.
Although last year’s vigil was also banned amid the pandemic but several people had turned up even as many protesters were arrested later, however, city officials this year took extra security measures and asked people not to congregate or publicise the event.