Hong Kong police raid shuttered Tiananmen museum

Hong Kong security police on Thursday raided the museum that houses exhibits commemorating Beijing’s deadly crackdown on Tiananmen Square in 1989, a day after they arrested four members of the group that ran the venue.

Officers from the city’s newly set-up national security police went into the now-shuttered June 4 museum Thursday morning for a search and cordoned off the building entrance.

In the afternoon, officers moved out multiple exhibits including the giant logo of the museum, a paper model of the Goddess of Democracy — a symbol of the 1989 pro-democracy student movement in Beijing — photos of each year’s candlelight vigils the alliance held in Hong Kong and at least 36 of boxes of materials from the museum to a truck.

The Hong Kong Alliance is the latest target of a sweeping national security law that China imposed on the city last year to quash dissent after huge and often violent democracy protests.

The raid came a day after security police arrested Chow Hang-tung, vice-chairwoman of the alliance, and three other leaders for “not providing information” according to the national security law.

The four are currently detained for investigation.

Last month, police ordered the group to hand over financial and operational details, accusing it of working as a “foreign agent”.

The request included the personal details of all members since its founding in 1989, all meeting minutes, financial records and any exchanges with other NGOs advocating for democracy and human rights in China.

On Tuesday, the day of the information handover deadline, alliance members handed police a letter saying the request was illegal, arbitrary and that no evidence of their wrongdoing had been presented.

As police raided the museum on Thursday, 12 democracy activists, including the alliance’s vice chairman Albert Ho, pleaded guilty to charges of inciting and joining an unauthorised assembly over the June 4 candlelight vigil in 2020, which was the first one banned by authorities since 1990.

In his mitigation speech, Ho said he rejected the accusation that they are foreign agents, saying the alliance was formed by local democratic groups supporting democracy protesters in Beijing. 

“Why did Hong Kong, then a British Colony situated thousands of miles away at the periphery of the country get so much involved in the 1989 Democracy Movement?” Ho said. 

“The answer is simple and straightforward: Hong Kong people who were about to reunite with our mother country did cherish the aspiration that she would move forward to become a free and democratic nation.”

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