Hong Kong authorities raided the city’s Tiananmen Massacre museum a day after arresting four members of the civil society group that ran it.
The raid is the latest act by the police in a sweeping crackdown on dissent and civil society groups that do not follow a pro-Beijing line.
The June 4 Museum, which for two years has displayed information and historical items related to the massacre of student protesters in Beijing on June 4, 1989, is run by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Patriotic Movements in China. , which has been charged with foreign collusion under the national security law.
On Thursday morning, police officers were photographed carrying dozens of blue metal tubs to the museum’s Mong Kok building. Local media outlets filmed the officers removing items and loading them onto a truck, including display panels and large cardboard cutouts.
The museum first opened a permanent exhibition in 2014 and closed just over two years later, reportedly due to pressure from the building’s owners. In April 2019 it reopened at a new location in Mong Kok.
But it has been closed since June, when police announced an investigation into claims that it was operating without a proper license, three days after it had opened a new exhibition attended by hundreds of people. At the time, the Alliance said it would close to ensure the safety of the public and its staff, and that if it reopened it would separate from the Alliance. to operate independently.
Authorities have accused the 32-year-old Alliance, which also led the annual candlelight vigil in Hong Kong, of foreign collusion. Four senior leaders, Vice President Chow Hang-tung and standing committee members Simon Leung, Tang Ngok-kwan and Chan To-wai, were arrested Wednesday for refusing to release information about the group’s membership and finances.
The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom condemned the arrests. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the arrests were politically motivated and “a blatant abuse of power.”
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the arrests were “another chilling demonstration of how Beijing is using national security law to dismantle civil society and crack down on political dissent in Hong Kong.”
The alliance had already been scaled down in an attempt to protect itself from persecution. Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho are among many high-profile activists serving prison terms for their role in the 2019 pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong and are in pre-trial detention on other charges.
At the time police raided the museum, a group of 12 people, including the former vice president of the Ho alliance, appeared in court and pleaded guilty to charges related to the 2020 vigil, which had been banned by the authorities citing the pandemic.
“Why [the Alliance] Are you still commemorating June 4? In short, it is due to the moral commitment and duty of conscience that is willing to be assumed by the people of Hong Kong, ”Ho told the court during the mitigation, according to local media.
“On the mainland, open discussion on June 4 has always been forbidden in the public arena… On the other hand, in this small town in Hong Kong, we speak as the conscience of the whole nation, we protect the truth of history and the dignity of the people. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism