Chinese Communist Party bans Tiananmen Square Vigil for a Second Consecutive Year
The SNP have condemned the arrest of prominent democracy and human rights activist Chow Hang-Tung under a controversial security law passed in June last year. Her arrest follows the banning of annual vigils in Hong Kong and Macau for the second consecutive year which remembers those killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre. Ms Chow is vice chairwoman of the Hong Kong Alliance which organises the annual vigil and was arrested for promoting unauthorised assembly.
This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The massacre took place on the 4th June 1989 after weeks of protests by democracy and human rights activists against the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The total number of people killed is unknown, with estimates ranging from several hundred to 10,000. Thousands of officers have been placed on standby in Hong Kong whilst Victoria Park, where citizens usually gather each year to mark the anniversary, has been closed off to the public.
Ms Chow joins the hundreds of democracy and human rights activists who have been arrested by the Chinese authorities in Hong Kong over the past few years. Democracy activists have bravely resisted the CCP’s attacks on Hong Kong’s autonomy, with large protests occurring in 2014 and 2019. In 2020, a new National Security Law was passed by the CPP which significantly erodes Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom of expression, undermining the ‘one country, two systems’ model agreed when the UK transferred Hong Kong back to China in 1997.
In response, the UK Government introduced the BNO visa which allows 2.9 million Hong Kong citizens and their dependents to move to the UK. It also suspended the UK’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extended arms controls to the city. However, the UK Government still refuses to be drawn on the question of Magnitsky sanctions for Hong Kong and Chinese officials guilty of human rights abuses in the city.
SNP Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alyn Smith MP said:
‘The banning of vigils on the 32nd Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre and subsequent arrest of Chow Hang-Tung demonstrates how desperate the CCP is to silence liberal democracy. As internationalists and defenders of human rights, it is important that we raise awareness of what is going on in Hong Kong and stand in solidarity. We urge the Chinese authorities to immediately release Chow Hang-Tung and all other prisoners of conscience.’
‘The values we share with Hong Kong are universal. The attacks on Hong Kong’s democratic values are an attack on our values. If Global Britain is to be more than a meaningless slogan, further action must be taken to defend democracy in Hong Kong.’
‘The UK has taken steps in the right direction such as introducing the BNO but it can and should do more. The UK Government must implement Magnitsky sanctions against those who have committed human rights abuses in Hong Kong and use its influence at the G7 next week to coordinate a response to China’s authoritarian actions.’