Highlights

  • 33 years since Tiananmen Square massacre
  • Taipei City holds massive demonstration to mark the event
  • Tiananmen Square anniversary events banned in Hong Kong

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Tiananmen Square's 33rd anniversary marked with protests in Taipei, crackdown in Hong Kong

The commemorative event this year in Taiwan featured some Hong Kong characteristics, activists said, as June 4 anniversary events are currently banned in the former British colony

Over 500 people gathered in Taipei City on Saturday to mark the 33rd anniversary of the deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Hundreds, if not thousands, were killed in the violent suppression by army troops of student protesters demanding greater democracy in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

The event this year in Taiwan featured some Hong Kong characteristics, activists said, as June 4 anniversary events are currently banned in the former British colony.

The ban is seen as part of a move to snuff out political dissent and a sign that Hong Kong is losing its freedoms as Beijing tightens its grip over the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

Despite the ban, citizens took to streets near Victoria Park, where Tiananmen Square events would usually be held. In a statement, Hong Kong police confirmed the arrest of six individuals who were part of the vigil.

Social media was rife with images of people being detained, frisked by authorities in the city. Scores of police officers were also seen patrolling the area near the renowned park.

Citizens were previously warned by the police officials that any unauthorised assembly would mean demonstrators could be sentenced to prison for upto five years.

"For 33 years it has always been peaceful, but today it's like [the police] are facing a big enemy," one activist, Chan Po-ying, told AFP. "The hearts of people will live on."

Also Watch| Hong Kong universities are busy erasing the memories of Tiananmen Square massacre

Meanwhile demonstrators in Taipei stood in solidarity with Hong Kong and its people, "While Hong Kong would hold commemorations of the June 4 Tiananmen Massacre, Taiwan used to have their own (commemorations) but on a much smaller scale. Now Hong Kong is not having the commemorations anymore, so I think we should put in more Hong Kong aspects to it," said Lee Ming-che, a Taiwanese democracy activist who was imprisoned in China for five years.

"What happened to Hong Kong and the June 4 Massacre lets us know about how evil the Chinese government is, and its crackdown on human rights. I think this is the biggest warning to Taiwan."

The event in Taiwan this year also unveiled a reproduction of the "Pillar of Shame", a sculpture designed by Danish artist Jens Galschioet which depicts torn and twisted bodies symbolizing the lives lost during the massacre.

The original 3-meter sculpture, initially installed in Hong Kong, was removed by local authorities in October 2021.

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