HONG KONG: Hong Kong police on Monday banned an upcoming vigil marking the Tiananmen crackdown anniversary citing the coronavirus pandemic, the first time the gathering has been halted in three decades, reports AFP.
The candlelight June 4 vigil usually attracts huge crowds and is the only place on Chinese soil where such a major commemoration of the anniversary is still allowed.Last year's gathering was especially large and came just a week before seven months of pro-democracy protests and clashes exploded onto the city's streets, sparked initially by a plan to allow extraditions to the authoritarian mainland.
But police rejected permission for this year's rally saying it would "constitute a major threat to the life and health of the general public", according to a letter of objection to organisers obtained by AFP. Hong Kong has managed to keep the virus mostly in check, with just over 1,000 infections and four deaths. Bars, restaurants, gyms and cinemas have largely reopened in recent weeks.
In the last two days five local infections were reported, breaking nearly two weeks of zero tallies. Organisers accused police of using the virus as an excuse to ban the rally.
"I don't see why the government finds political rallies unacceptable while it gave green lights to resumption of schools and other services ranging from catering, karaoke to swimming pools," said Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance which has organised every vigil since 1990.