Hong Kong Catholic Churches Receive Threats For Holding Mass Commemorating Tiananmen Square Massacre

candlelight vigil
(In picture: People holding candles near buildings.) |

Catholic churches in Hong Kong reportedly received threats for holding a Eucharistic Celebration commemorating the Tianenmen Square Massacre last Friday.

According to The Christian Post, the Chinese Communist Party has threatened seven Catholic churches in Hong Kong for the Tiananmen Square commemoration Mass days before it was set on June 4. Threatening signages were posted on the said churches by groups believed to be pro-CCP.

The posters contained a photo of former Hong Kong Bishop Cardinal Joseph Zen and a warning that such a remembrance violates the National Security Law. The local authorities also banned the annual candlelight vigil set last Friday.

Pro-CCP posters posted at the Catholic churches which commemorated the thousands dead at the Tiananmen Massacre (AsiaNews.it)
Pro-CCP posters posted at the Catholic churches which commemorated the thousands dead at the Tiananmen Massacre (AsiaNews.it)

Despite the threats, Hong Kong's diocesan Justice and Peace Commission that their plans will push through. Thousands did come on Friday for the candlelight vigil where many were seen using phone flashlights to signify their unity in the commemoration.

The Telegraph reported that local police tried to put a stop in the candlelight vigil by arresting Hong Kong Alliance In Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China Vice Chairwoman Chow Hang Tung who organized the event. The police also arrested a food delivery man who participated in the "unauthorized assembly" by promoting it.

The Christian Post pointed out that the National Security Law has categorized crimes into: local terrorist activities, collaborating with foreign or external foreign forces that threatens national security, state power subversion, and succession. The law was said to have been implemented despite not being reviewed by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Meanwhile, the Catholic News Service pointed out this year's remembrance of the Tiananmen Square Massacre was the first one banned ever since the National Security Law was put in place in Hong Kong. The police reasoned that the ban was due to social distancing rules to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"We believe that celebrating a Catholic Mass is a religious activity protected by our basic law. Under the current situation, we have to adhere to relevant policy, which includes current hygiene guidelines, so as long as we keep the church at 30% capacity, the Mass should be legal," Hong Kong Diocese Project Officer Porson Chan told the Catholic News Service in an interview.

"In our current situation, I think churches may be the only legal space to have such (events)," Chan added, pointing out that the seven churches are set to accommodate 2,500 people only following the guidelines and because they can not gather in Victoria Park like they used to.

Official records of the United Kingdom, as per BBC News, show that "at least 10,000 people" died in June 4, 1989 at the Tiananmen Square after simple protests turned out into a massacre by the Chinese army. China however reported that there were only "more than 1,000."

The National Geographic's documentary on the event said that pro-democracy students marched into Tiananmen Square in Beijing to demand from the Chinese government an increase in democratic rule. The protest began on June 3, 1989 after the death of Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang who was reported to liberalize Chinese politics and supported the pro-democracy students.

China responded by sending 200,000 troops and 100 tanks who opened fire to the protestors on June 4 and then hid the incident from the international community. Smuggled photographs on the event that leaked paved the way for the world to learn of China's crime, which the National Geographic said they never acknowledged nor apologized for until this day.