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COVID-19 forces Tiananmen Square memorials online in Vancouver

Last Updated Jun 4, 2020 at 12:06 pm PDT

(Source: iStock)

Tiananmen Square anniversary vigils will largely be taking place online in Canada this year due to COVID-19

In addition to a virtual gathering, a candle-light vigil will also be held outside Chinese Consulate in Vancouver

Thousands in Hong Kong defied police ban to hold a candlelight vigil on the 31st anniversary

HONG KONG (NEWS 1130) – As people in Hong Kong defy Beijing and protest in the city en mass, events are also being planned across Canada Thursday to remember the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

With COVID-19 still a major concern, organizers of this year’s memorials are turning to a virtual format.

In Vancouver, online events are going to feature a variety of speakers, including 1989 student protest leader Wang Dan, along with Canadian Senator Jim Munson, who was a journalist covering the events in Beijing at that time.

Mabel Tung, one of the organizers of the events in Vancouver, says what’s happening in Hong Kong today is similar to what the world saw just more than three decades ago.

“This is another version of the Tiananmen massacre, because you can see what the Hong Kong police force has been continuously deployed … with suppression,” she tells NEWS 1130.

While the major event will be virtual on Thursday night, a candle-light vigil will also be held outside the Chinese Consulate on Granville Street, with organizers calling for everyone involved to wear masks.

The online event in Vancouver begins at 6:00 p.m., while the candlelight vigil at the consulate is expected to start at 9:00 p.m. Thursday.

Organizers are asking anyone who plans to attend the in-person event to wear a mask and to respect physical distancing.

On Thursday, thousands of people in Hong Kong defied a police ban, breaking through barricades to hold a candlelight vigil on the 31st anniversary of China’s crushing of a democracy movement centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

With democracy snuffed out in the mainland, the focus has shifted increasingly to semi-autonomous Hong Kong, where authorities for the first time banned the annual vigil that remembers victims of the 1989 crackdown.

Tung worries this year’s memorials in Hong Kong could be the last.

“Because the national security law is coming to pass, probably at the end of this month. A lot of clauses in the law that, you know, subversion, is the main thing that may be used many times to accuse people trying to speak up,” she says, adding the defiance seen in Hong Kong is noted by the Chinese community in Canada. “This kind of suppression is totally unacceptable, and people just want to remember something that happened 31 years ago.”