Dozens of protestors were detained in Hong Kong in connection with the 34th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, according to reports.
Key details: A total of 23 people — 11 men and 12 women — were taken into custody on Sunday for “breaching the public peace.” One 53-year-old woman was officially arrested for “obstructing police officers.”
Among those detained was 67-year-old activist Alexandra Wong, who carried a bouquet of flowers. A man who held a book titled “May 35th,” which references the Tiananmen crackdown, was also taken into custody.
Ahead of Sunday’s protest, four people were arrested for “seditious acts” and “disorderly conduct,” which are offenses under the 2020 National Security Law. Four others were arrested for allegedly “breaching public peace.”
About the Tiananmen Square massacre: The crackdown in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, resulted in hundreds — if not thousands — of deaths of pro-democracy protesters, according to estimates. The protests began in April of the same year but calls for more individual rights and freedoms had been brewing for years prior.
The death of former Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang on April 15, 1989, catalyzed the protests. Hu, who ascended to the role in 1982, encouraged democratic reforms while in office and was forced to resign in 1987.
Taiwan’s response: Taiwan, where the anniversary is freely commemorated, held a memorial in Taipei that featured a “Pillar of Shame” statue. In a statement, Vice President William Lai said Taipei’s continued remembrance of the incident “shows that democracy and authoritarianism are the biggest differences between Taiwan and China.”
The bigger picture: Hong Kong activists say the arrests follow China’s scheme to obliterate political dissent in the city. Imposed by Beijing, the National Security Law of 2020 came in response to massive pro-democracy protests that erupted in the city in 2019.
In 2019, a record 180,000 people gathered in Hong Kong to protest the Tiananmen Square massacre. That would be the last year Hongkongers were able to freely assemble to commemorate the incident.
Other sites of commemoration: Aside from Taipei, demonstrators also observed June 4 in Berlin, London and New York. In Manhattan, the June 4th Memorial Museum opened on Friday, featuring artifacts such as banners, letters, news articles, photos and even a blood-stained shirt.