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International News May 29, 2021 9:26 PM EST

Hong Kong government warns attending Tiananmen Square Massacre vigil will result in 5 years in prison

After banning the vigil in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, the government announced that those who participate in or publicize it this year will be handed down jail sentences.

Hong Kong government warns attending Tiananmen Square Massacre vigil will result in 5 years in prison
Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC

After banning the vigil in 2020 due to 'COVID-19 concerns', the government announced that those who participate in or publicize it this year will be given lengthy jail sentences.

According to the Hong Kong Free Press, the city's Security Bureau has deemed the June 4th Tiananmen Square massacre vigil and commemorative long-distance run, to be "unauthorised assemblies." They went on to state that "No one should take part in it, or advertise or publicise it, or else he or she may violate the law."

The penalties set forth by the government for violating the law are up to 5 years in jail for attending the event, and up to 1 year for publicising it. They made it clear that "whether or not the event involved violence was not relevant."

For those who don't know, the Tiananmen Square massacre took place on June 4, 1989, and put an end to "months of student-led demonstrations in China." The death toll is unknown,  but "it is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people died when the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to crack down on protesters in Beijing."

In the past, tens of thousands of people flocked to Hong Kong's Victoria Park to take part in the candlelight vigil. Even last year when it was banned for the first time, "thousands showed up anyway."

While the government has again cited pandemic concerns in their decision to ban this year's event, they also say it might breach the new "national security law."

Leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China stated that even though the event is banned, people "can go down to the street and light a candle." They urged people "to light a candle at 8 pm, wherever you are," adding that, "It's a different way of organising."

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