Hong Kong June 4 vigil in limbo as venue booking rejected

Published (HKT): 2021.05.05 12:30

For the second year running, Hongkongers may have to suspend their three-decade tradition of gathering under candlelight to mourn victims of Beijing’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Event organizers on Tuesday officially received a rejection from the venue authorities regarding their application to use Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island for the annual vigil.

The rally host, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, was given the red light from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the government body that handled bookings of public facilities.

Another of the alliance’s applications, lodged with the police for permission to carry out the event, had yet to get any response.

Earlier, the leisure department had replied to the alliance saying that it had stopped processing all bookings for “non-designated uses” of its recreational venues until further notice.

In its latest email, sent on Tuesday morning, the department noted that the alliance filed the application on June 17 last year to book Victoria Park between May 30 and June 4 this year to organize the 32th anniversary of the Tiananmen candlelight vigil.

The department formally turned down the application. Alliance secretary Richard Choi said that the government’s official reply came only after a staffer of the alliance called to follow up on the matter in the wake of a media report last week.

In that report, it was claimed that the department would be denying the alliance’s application “in view of the latest coronavirus situation.”

This is the second year that the vigil has run into difficulties of securing approval.

Choi acknowledged that the alliance was facing a very harsh political environment and needed to think about what to do to conserve its strength for future development. It also had to consider the safety of members and supporters, he added.

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