Chiu Yan-loy, a community worker from Tsuen Wan District in Hong Kong and a former leading member of the now disbanded Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, will not light candles in Victoria Park This year. The annual vigil commemorating those who died at the hands of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as it crushed a week-long peaceful protest in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square has been effectively banned for the third consecutive year. Chiu has already served eight months in prison for participating in an unauthorized vigil in 2020. Instead, Hong Kongers will remember the dead privately, amid a citywide crackdown on public dissent under a draconian national security law.
Chiu Yan-loy: I have no regrets. It was an honor for me to be condemned as a dissident in mourning on June 4. Commemorating the massacre in itself is not a crime, and making one is political repression and nothing more. I chose to stay in Hong Kong to endure this situation. More than 10,000 other people in Victoria Park at the same time as me also risked such charges. If I can carry the box for them, then I will.
RFA: Will there be other events in Hong Kong?
Chiu Yan-loy: It’s a luxury to hold such a ceremony in todayit’s Hong Kong. June 4 commemorations and candlelight vigils are a way to gather some kind of strength. We won’t see June 4 gathers again in Hong Kong, nor any [public] grief.
RFA: What can we do instead?
Chiu Yan-loy: When I was in prison, I realized that the most unbearable thing was the feeling of loneliness; a feeling that no one cared about me. Visiting prisoners is similar to the spirit of mourning June 4. Spiritual support makes them realize that they are not alone…there are still people who care about them. Helping them overcome their loneliness is the most important thing.
RFA: How are your former colleagues doing?
Chiu Yan-loy: I’m very sad that every single one of them ended up in jail or was suppressed in some way. However, I respect their choices. [Alliance leader Chow Hang-tung] had already spoken with me about his choices before [her prison sentences] and why she made them. I hope she has enough willpower to hang on. I wish him good luck.
RF: How are you?
Chiu Yan-loy: After I got out, I returned to the community to serve my residents through crowdfunding. There are many unknowns in the future, but I will keep hope and perseverance. Hong Kongers must keep hope and keep moving forward.
Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.