Five Hong Kong pro-democracy activists were sentenced to jail terms exceeding one year for honoring the thousands of victims massacred in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.

On June 4 last year, thousands of people gathered to continue the traditional commemoration, even though it was banned by officials citing health risks from the COVID pandemic, Reuters reported on Dec. 13. 

For critics, that ban was just a pretext to prevent the massive celebration, as had also been ordered the previous year. Four days earlier, three other participants, including media mogul Jimmy Lai, 74, had already been convicted.

Lai did not regret his attendance at the event but considered it an honor to commemorate “the glory” of the victims.

“If commemorate (sic) those who died because of injustice is a crime, then inflict on me that crime and let me suffer the punishment of this crime, so I may share the burden and glory of those young men and women who shed their blood on June 4th to proclaim truth, justice, and goodness,” Lai wrote.

What they have done is to breathe new life into the movement, bringing together a new generation in this long struggle for truth, justice, and democracy.”

For her part, 36-year-old lawyer Chow Hang Tung, also convicted, stated, “If those in power had wished to kill the movement with prosecution and imprisonment, they shall be sorely disappointed.”

She added: “Indeed what they have done is breathe new life into the movement, rallying a new generation to this long struggle for truth, justice, and democracy.”

Likewise, the Hong Kong Alliance leader in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, Lee Cheuk-yan, who organized the vigil, was no less resolute in alluding to the Communist Party of China (CPC) crackdown in November. 

“If there was a provocateur, it is the regime that fired at its own people,” Lee said, adding, “If I must go to jail to affirm my will, then so be it.”

The Tiananmen Square massacre vigil has been held every year for more than 30 years. More and more dissidents are coming to peacefully protest against the authoritarian communist regime that illegitimately rules the city, exploiting and impoverishing its people.

During last year’s commemoration, at least 26 activists were arrested in connection with the vigil, including Jimmy Lai and many members of the alliance in charge of organizing the event every year.

The chief executive of Hong Kong, controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, Carrie Lam, enforced the “Security Law” imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong. 

This infamous law, which the Chinese regime imposed on Hong Kong last year, criminalizes all dissent from Beijing’s authoritarian policies as “subversion,” infringing on freedoms and forcibly imposing the Chinese Communist Party’s ideology on the island.

The Tiananmen massacre occurred in the early morning of June 4, 1989, when soldiers and tanks invaded the square to repress and put a bloody end to these demonstrations, which endangered the communist dictatorship.

Since the Tiananmen Square massacre, June 4 has been a “sensitive” date for the Chinese Communist Party. Year after year, it tries to erase it from the mind and conscience of the Chinese people, and the tragic event is considered a taboo subject in China.

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