Commemorating June 4 amid the pandemic

DUE TO THE Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic and the extension of the prohibition on group gathering, at the time of writing it is thought that the general public in Hong Kong will not be able to organise any large-scale commemoration of the June 4Tiananmen Square massacre as in previous years. 

The Mass and prayer service, organised by the Hong Kong Catholic Organisations in Support of the Patriotic and Democratic Movement in China to mark the 31st anniversary of the tragedy, have moved to online broadcast this year. The theme is: “Have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). In the book of Deuteronomy, God gave the Israelites the comfort which many Hong Kong people hope for.

Hong Kong people are committed to safeguard freedom from fear: some worry that when the One country, Two systems is lost, their basic rights and lifestyle will be affected and social space will be gradually narrowed. Given the recent controversy involving the Diploma of Secondary Education exam paper, some educationalists are concerned whether they can continue to teach students to analyse historical facts based on their conscience and professionalism. 

In mainland China, some people have also suffered setbacks when safeguarding civic rights and safety amid the pandemic. People from both the mainland and Hong Kong connected with regard to their yearning for improving society and enjoying freedom from fear.

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During the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, students organised petitions and rallies in the hope that the government would listen to the people’s voice and, in return, they were suppressed by the authorities. However, the deeds of many students and citizens during the June 4 tragedy have sown the seeds of conscience and freedom, enabling Hong Kong people to reflect on their own identity. 

Many local Hong Kong people who are socially minded, particularly the middle-aged or older, witnessed what happened in Tiananmen Square 31 years ago and have been inspired by it.

The commemoration embodies the thirst of the people of Hong Kong for justice and truth, along with democracy and rule of law pursued by the students and citizens during the Tiananmen Square protests.

In the past, after the end of the annual June 4 commemorative vigil, opinion would normally be concerned with the rise or decline in the number of attendees. Last year, the vigil organiser said that as many as 180,000 people attended. The mode of commemoration this year amid the pandemic will inevitably be different from previously.

Prior to each year’s observance, the Hong Kong Catholic Organisations in Support of the Patriotic and Democratic Movement in China organises a Mass and prayer service in Victoria Park, allowing people to to pray for those who lost their lives in Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989 and their families, as well as those who have been in exile overseas, the Church in China, society in China and in Hong Kong, and to remember those who sacrificed themselves for truth, and to reaffirm that truth wins over lies. Amid the current atmosphere in Hong Kong, truth has become even more important. It is also an essential element in overcoming the current fear.

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Let us continue to pray for those who have died during the June 4 massacre, for society on the mainland and in Hong Kong, so that everyone, in the face of challenges, can bear witness to truth and overcome fear with faith. SE

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