A Hong Kong group that has organized an annual memorial on June 4 to honor the massacre of students in China’s 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown is disbanding.

The Hong Kong Alliance pro-democracy group reached their decision by vote on Saturday, Sept. 25, after apparent pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) national crackdown on dissidents, according to The Guardian.

The group has kept an annual vigil for the victims over the past 32 years. Their chairman, Lee Cheuk-yan, who has been imprisoned, vowed the event would not be whitewashed despite the Chinese Communist Party’s effort.

“A regime cannot take away the people’s memory and conscience,” Cheuk-yan wrote in a letter, read out by a representative. “The beliefs of the Hong Kong Alliance will be passed on in the hearts of Hongkongers.”

Following Beijing’s imposition of a sweeping national security statute in the city, scores of civil society organizations have crumbled in the last year, ranging from a prominent trade union grouping to the largest teachers’ union.

The alliance became targeted earlier this year by the national security unit, which demanded that they submit a slew of papers and information on its membership.

Since then, the CCP has detained multiple persons and leaders of the alliance over charges of inciting subversion, reports DW. The group’s HK$2.2 million ($283,000/€241,000) worth of assets has also been seized. 

A Tiananmen massacre museum was raided earlier this month, with police taking away exhibits, memorabilia, and photographs of the historic event, according to The Guardian.

The group’s website and social media platforms were also demanded to be removed, and officials threatened to withdraw its company registration. 

The authoritarian crackdown seemed to have put enough pressure on Albert Ho and Cheuk-yan, who hold key positions in the group. As DW reported, they signed a document that supported the group to disband. 

Not all accept defeat. 

“I still hope to show Hong Kong Alliance’s beliefs to the world and continue this movement that has already lasted for 32 years,” said Chow Hang Tung, another imprisoned leader of the alliance. 

The CCP has tried to silence any mention of the memories of the 1989 massacre by erasing official records of the event, DW noted. 

On June 4, 1989, the CCP responded to the massive group of pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square by sending the army to the area to crush them and kill any who resisted. The official death toll was 300, but witnesses said there were thousands of victims.

Through the past decades, the Hong Kong-based group has successfully kept history alive to remind the world of the horrific events of that day. 

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