Hong Kong authorities will deploy 7,000 police officers to prevent the June 4 candlelight from lighting up the city

Hong Kong will deploy a total of 7,000 police officers in several districts on Friday (June 4) to prevent people from participating in “unauthorized” June 4 candlelight vigils. Hong Kong police banned the June 4 candlelight vigil in Victoria Park last week on the grounds of the new epidemic.

According to RTHK, sources said 3,000 of the 7,000 police officers planned to be deployed to the Victoria Park area. The 7,000 include officers from headquarters and the five regional response brigades, some of whom will be on standby and will be deployed only when needed.

The report said: “The police will respond to section 17 (4) of the Public Order Ordinance, if they believe there is reason to believe that there is a gathering in Victoria Park, they will temporarily close the area in accordance with the powers conferred by the Ordinance, and will first consider the location of the planned rally, namely the lawn of Victoria Park, soccer field and basketball court, while the relevant access can also be closed. But then whether it will be closed, or when closed, depending on the situation.”

The report also said that in addition to the Victoria Park area, the police will also pay attention to other gathering places called for online, including outside Langham Place in Mongkok, Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and the 100 steps outside the Sha Tin Town Hall.

It is reported that if there are people wearing black clothes and black pants or chanting slogans and lighting candles in the area of Victoria Park, they may be considered to be related to the banned rally.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China has held candlelight vigils in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park every year since 1989, with tens to hundreds of thousands of people attending each time. 2020 was the year when the Hong Kong police invoked the Emergency Decree on the Restriction of Gatherings for the Prevention and Control of the New Crown Epidemic and issued a ban on June 4 candlelight vigils. This year, the police again banned the June 4 candlelight memorial gathering in Victoria Park, citing the new crown epidemic.

The current situation of the new crown epidemic in Hong Kong is relatively stable. The Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health said Hong Kong reported a total of 21 cases of New Guan in the 14 days from May 20 to June 2, all of which were imported cases.

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported that the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China (HKASPDMC) said it will drop its call for people to go to the park to participate in the rally, and in addition, will not hold the ceremony online this year as it did in 2020.

The federation told the newspaper that it feared police would charge those watching the live broadcast with a “common purpose” and arrest them for unauthorized rallies.

Citing a senior police source, the South China Morning Post also reported that people should be prepared for a tough response if they continue to defy the ban on going to the park on Friday for unauthorized rallies.

The source said:- “A lenient attitude towards unauthorized rallies is not expected because our actions need to bring about a deterrent effect after the court sentenced the protesters to long prison terms.”

Four Hong Kong activists, Wong Chi-fung, Sham Ao-fai, Yuen Ka-wai and Lau Kai-ching, were sentenced to four to 10 months in prison last year for their “unauthorized” participation in the June 4 candlelight rally.

Beijing promulgated the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law in June 2020, which prohibits any act of subversion or secession. Since the implementation of the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law, China has continued to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, with many activists being sentenced to prison and others and politicians being forced to leave Hong Kong and go into exile overseas.

A source also told the newspaper that traffic police will set up roadblocks near Victoria Park and mobile police units will conduct stop-and-search checks around the venue.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China also announced recently that the June 4 Memorial Hall is temporarily closed as Hong Kong authorities launch a licensing investigation into the public exhibition.

In a statement, the Alliance said that officers from the Hong Kong Food and Environmental Hygiene Department visited the pavilion on June 1 to investigate that the Alliance had not obtained a public entertainment venue license and was suspected of violating the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance.

The Alliance also said they needed further legal advice and decided to temporarily close the memorial hall until further notice in order to protect the safety of staff and visitors.

The United States on Wednesday condemned Hong Kong authorities for trying to erase the memory of the Tiananmen massacre and suppress dissent as the 32nd anniversary of June 4 approaches.

In a press conference, State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said the U.S. condemned the actions of Hong Kong authorities that led organizers of the June 4 commemoration to close the memorial.

Porter added, “The authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing are also attempting to erase this horrific massacre from history and thereby continue to silence dissent.”