Hong Kong’s Tiananmen Sq. museum compelled to shut two days forward of memorial
On June 1, Hong Kong officers from the Meals and Environmental Hygiene Division (FEHD) visited the museum within the working-class space of Mong Kok and accused the organizers of working a “place of public leisure” illegally.
“Our division just lately obtained a complaints that somebody in a unit in a business constructing on Mong Kok Highway was working an leisure venue with out the required license,” the FEHD informed CNN in an announcement.
They added that this license is required for all companies that “entertain folks” no matter whether or not they cost cash as an entry charge. The museum was free to go to.
Some supporters have left flowers exterior the museum’s closed door forward of June 4.
Courtesy June 4 Museum/Twitter
The vigil was canceled final yr because of the coronavirus outbreak, and on Saturday a courtroom sided with a police determination to cancel the occasion once more this yr, for a similar motive.
The following day, the June 4 Museum’s organizers, the Hong Kong Alliance in Assist of Patriotic Democratic Actions of China (often simply referred to as The Hong Kong Alliance), invited patrons to put flowers on the museum to mark the day.
The museum’s chairman, Lee Cheuk-yan, noticed hassle coming. Again in March, he gave CNN a tour of the museum and predicted that the NSL might quickly shut it for good.
“(The NSL) is at all times like a knife hanging round your neck,” Lee mentioned. “We do not know when it might chop down on us.”
The facility of objects
This yr, Lee will spend June 4 behind bars. In April, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail for organizing and collaborating in unauthorized authorities protests in 2019. He faces additional fees for different actions.
Earlier than he was sentenced, Lee met with CNN after a protracted day in West Kowloon’s excessive courtroom. He was in remarkably good spirits, regardless of the looming risk of a jail time period.
He walked CNN via just a few of his favourite items on show. Many had been donated to the museum by the Tiananmen Moms, a Chinese language activist group composed of oldsters and family members of individuals killed in the course of the June 4 protests.
Essentially the most shifting items are the private ones — a Peking College T-shirt signed by activists, a bullet pulled from the leg of a labor organizer, a digital camera owned by a pupil who was shot whereas snapping photos of the day’s occasions, and pictures the identical pupil’s dad and mom had developed posthumously.
Collectible figurines of the Goddess of Democracy, a statue made and later destroyed in the course of the Tiananmen Sq. protests, are on the market on the June 4 Museum.
Chan Lengthy Hei/SOPA Photographs/LightRocket/Getty Photographs
“The museum is just a part of our work,” Lee defined. He is aware of that actions do not simply occur in a single day, regardless of the museum’s identify. “We are attempting to firstly manage exercise occasions across the June 4 commemoration. So, yearly the June 4 commemoration vigil, and likewise the march earlier than that. Aside from the June 4 commemoration, we additionally supported a marketing campaign for the discharge of dissidents inside China.”
In response, the Hong Kong Alliance launched an announcement on Twitter confirming that it was compelled to cancel the vigil. Nevertheless, it added, “regardless of this, the alliance continues to imagine that regardless of how a lot the regime engages in oppression, the candlelight won’t ever disappear so long as folks keep in mind.”
The June 4 Museum’s spring exhibit was about how a lot the occasions of Tiananmen Sq. mirror the protests of the previous few years in Hong Kong. Each actions had been led by younger folks, and sought to push again in opposition to China’s ruling Communist Occasion and in opposition to media censorship.
Lee says that some museum visitors merely need to be alone with their ideas. Others ask questions or defend China’s actions.
The person behind the mission
Lee was born in Shanghai in 1957 to a household whose roots are in Guangdong Province, which borders Hong Kong. He moved to Hong Kong as a younger man whereas the town was nonetheless a British colony — first to attend college, then to work as a labor activist.
The Hong Kong Alliance was based in 1989, galvanized by the June 4 motion. Then, the group’s major concern was looking forward to the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese language, and the way that will have an effect on life and politics within the metropolis.
“At the moment, the folks of Hong Kong had been very a lot mobilized and moved by the scholars in China,” he explains of the burgeoning pro-democracy actions occurring on the mainland then. “Personally, I used to be after all very glad that individuals in China began to struggle for democracy. If there may be democracy in China, then there’s for positive democracy in Hong Kong.”
The Hong Kong Alliance is usually labeled as anti-Chinese language, which Lee dislikes. Regardless of spending most of his grownup life in Hong Kong, he very a lot considers himself Chinese language, usually mentioning how a lot he loves China and is pleased with his heritage.
What the alliance desires is not an finish to China. Its said purpose is an finish to the single-party rule of the Chinese language Communist Occasion (CCP) and a gap of the nation to totally different viewpoints and political events.
The June 4 protests in 1989 had been a part of a motion that had been rising throughout China calling for precisely that. The climactic occasions of Tiananmen Sq. started on April 15, after the sudden loss of life of Hu Yaobang, a reform-minded former CCP chief who had been ousted just a few years earlier. When Hu died, a bunch of individuals — largely school college students from Peking College — gathered in Tiananmen Sq. within the coronary heart of Beijing to mourn him publicly. That mourning morphed right into a cry to motion as protesters pushed for governmental reform and a transfer to democracy.
Guests study artifacts on show on the June 4 Museum.
Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Photographs
The only-day motion became weeks, with some college students occurring starvation strikes. Extra folks flocked to the sq., and the crowds grew greater and extra vocal.
The phrase “Tiananmen” means “Gate of Heavenly Peace” in Mandarin. Because the crowds swelled, the Chinese language navy marched on the sq. on June 4, arresting and killing most of the activists.
At the moment, dialogue of these occasions stays taboo in mainland China. The June 4 Museum in Hong Kong was important to folks remembering that day within the Better China and past.
Vacationers from everywhere in the world have visited it, leaving Put up-It notes with messages in numerous languages to make a Lennon Wall like those which have popped up round Hong Kong in assist of the town’s newer pro-democracy motion. A few of these, just like the one at Hong Kong College, are nonetheless up, however others have been eliminated by police.
Regardless of the well-wishes from Australia, Finland, Japan and extra, among the most poignant messages had been these from Chinese language guests.
“I requested a man from Beijing, ‘How are you aware about our museum?'” Lee recalled asking one mainland visitor. “He mentioned, ‘After all I learn about you and the museum, I used to be the one which censored it. I wrote down your deal with after I’m censoring your museum.’ After which he got here to our museum to go to.”
What occurs subsequent
Lee is in jail, nonetheless capable of talk with The Hong Kong Alliance and launch messages to his supporters via his legal professional. His solely youngster has moved overseas, maybe completely.
The Hong Kong Alliance worries that if the museum is compelled to shut completely, the federal government might seize its belongings, so they’re working to digitize the whole assortment in each English and Chinese language.
“The promised democracy has by no means materialized,” Lee mentioned, referring to the “One Nation, Two Methods” method promised by Beijing to let the town preserve a excessive diploma of autonomy till 2047, together with the introduction of common suffrage.
Members of the Hong Kong Alliance carry lights to face in for the candles usually displayed on June 4.
Courtesy June 4 Museum/Twitter
However the passage of the Nationwide Safety Regulation has all however dashed that hope.
On April 16, Lee greeted a crowd of supporters exterior the courtroom as he ready to start his jail time period. Wearing a natty button-down shirt, he was additionally sporting the surgical face masks that’s necessary in public in Hong Kong to protect in opposition to coronavirus.
Shortly earlier than being walked to the jail van, the activist referenced an English-language tune by the Rogers & Hammerstein duo that has been adopted by the pro-democracy motion.
“I need to dedicate the tune ‘You may By no means Stroll Alone’ to the Hong Kong folks. We are going to stroll collectively even in darkness with hope in our coronary heart,” he mentioned.
Lee’s subsequent public look can be on June 11, when he’ll stand trial for 3 further fees of “inciting, organizing and collaborating in an unauthorized meeting.”
This yr, unable to depart his cell, Lee will go on a one-day starvation strike in jail as his private tribute to June 4.
CNN’s Jadyn Sham contributed reporting.