Hong Kong church holds June 4 commemorative event marking anniversary of Tiananmen Square crackdown amid national security law concerns

·3-min read

A Hong Kong church on Monday held a commemorative event marking the anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown, amid concerns about legal risks under the national security law.

Ward Memorial Methodist Church in Yau Ma Tei organised a prayer meeting on Monday night, a week after the city’s Catholic churches announced they would not hold the annual mass to mourn those killed in the 1989 incident for the first time in three decades over national security law concerns.

According to a poster released by the Christian church, the event for members involved the singing of hymns, and the sharing of messages and prayer.

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“Every year during May and June, we would think about the waves and storms experienced by the motherland,” the poster read.

“No matter if it is the May Fourth Movement around a hundred years ago or the June 4 incident around 30 years ago, it still left a mark that is hard to erase in the hearts of the people.”

“We pray that the Lord will treat our country and people with kindness, bless us with peace, mend divisions, heal our wounds, and let more people return to the kingdom of our Lord.”

Reverend Yuen Tin-yau, former chairman of the Hong Kong Christian Council and president of the Methodist Church, told the Post a few dozen Christians attended the prayer meeting themed “To pray for the peace for the citizens of the country”.

Reverend Yuen Tin-yau, former chairman of the Hong Kong Christian Council and president of the Methodist Church. Photo: Josephine Ma
Reverend Yuen Tin-yau, former chairman of the Hong Kong Christian Council and president of the Methodist Church. Photo: Josephine Ma

“I believe most Hongkongers will not forget [the June 4 crackdown]. It’s just that the way of commemorating may not be easy. They can pray or light up a candle in front of their window on the night of June 4,” said Yuen, who was also at the session.

“They can also commemorate it in their heart … It’s not necessary for us to gather together. Doing it in private is also feasible.”

Noting that there was no organisation showing interest in organising events to commemorate the crackdown, he said it was obvious that authorities did not want people to apply for public gatherings.

Can Hongkongers still hold June 4 commemorative events?

“In the past two years, they cited pandemic reasons. But this year they clearly stated that only football playing is allowed [at Victoria Park],” he said.

Asked whether he had concerns that the prayer meeting would violate the national security law, Yuen said he had attended June 4 prayer sessions in the past 30 years and did not see it as a problem.

“Praying for the Chinese church and the country is perfectly justified, how could we violate the national security law just by praying for the country?” he said.

The meeting at Ward Memorial Methodist Church (entrance pictured) involved singing of hymns and sharing of messages and prayer. Photo: Edmond So
The meeting at Ward Memorial Methodist Church (entrance pictured) involved singing of hymns and sharing of messages and prayer. Photo: Edmond So

“I don’t think that this would be the last year to host a prayer meeting [for the June 4 crackdown] … We should always pray for the citizens of the country. It’s just we may, like the Catholics, take out the word ‘June 4’ and pray for the Chinese church,” he added.

Another attendee, who declined to be named, said he used to take part in the annual June 4 vigil at Victoria Park, but turned to prayer meetings after the vigil was suspended.

“I just want to take any chance I get to attend [such events],” he said. “The atmosphere was different compared with the past. There are lots of taboos in society … We won’t even discuss it among our friends. It’s really sad and heartbreaking.”

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