Museum on Tiananmen crackdown reopens

The organisers of the annual June Fourth events to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre on Sunday reopened a museum for people to learn more about the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1989 and to pay tribute to the victims.

For the second year in a row, police refused to give permission for the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China to hold a candlelight vigil, and a march, citing pandemic concerns.

The alliance called on the public to make reservations online to visit, as part of their Covid prevention measures.

Some members of the public were quick to book their visits for the first day of the exhibition, as they spoke of fears that it could be the last time they could see it.

“I booked it immediately because I worry that, you never know, the exhibition may be closed again for other reasons,” said a woman named Helen.

“The significance is that we still can talk about it, June Fourth in Hong Kong, but I worry that, you know, because this year we cannot really have our memorial thing in Victoria Park this year, so I worry that this exhibition cannot stay in Hong Kong.”

A woman, surnamed Li, brought her two high school children to the venue in Mong Kok, noting that she had previously taken her teenage son and daughter to a candlelight vigil in Victoria Park.

“The Chinese government really killed so many students, those innocent students, we want my children to know that this really happened, this is history…Even though time flies, we won’t forget about this. Don’t fool us, even though it’s 30 years, they try to make people lose their memory about this because of time,” she said, adding that the exhibition was important so people could learn from history.

A university researcher from the mainland said he found out about the exhibition when looking for museums before leaving Hong Kong, and he decided to pay a visit.

“This is an opportunity that I can get more information about history, real history…You know for a person he or she will also be curious about something in history…if I do not come here, then later it’ll be quite difficult for me to learn this period of history,” said the man, who gave his name as Chen.

The museum opened its doors again at a sensitive time, with some pro-Beijing figures claiming slogans chanted at past June Fourth events would now be outlawed by the national security law.

But Mak Hoi-wah, a standing committee member of the Alliance, said he saw nothing wrong with the museum.

“As Chinese, we have to learn about our history, historical developments,” he said.

“Of course, some people may think that it’s not acceptable in China, therefore it’s not acceptable in Hong Kong. I think it’s not the way, Hong Kong people, even under the national security law, we’re not breaking any law, we’re not doing any harm to the society and I don’t see any reason why the Hong Kong Alliance or our museum should be suppressed.”

One visitor, Valerie, who came with her three children, said she preferred to keep up her hope that there could still be public commemorations of the 1989 massacre, but she said she was prepared that the exhibition and the vigil may never return.

“I think that we will always remember. I think we can do it from home, I think we can do it from anywhere,” she said.