(All) For Freedom, back in 1989
A pin I'll be wearing tomorrow
I'm not sure why it took me so long to do so but I finally visited the world's only June 4th Museum, located in Mongkok, Hong Kong, yesterday afternoon. Its space is on the small side; made more crowded by there being a number of journalists there to interview activist Lee Cheuk-yan (who is on the governing committee of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, the organizer of the June 4th vigils in Hong Kong and operator of the museum) as well as people like me who were motivated to visit ahead of the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. But those who make the effort to visit will, I feel, consider it worth doing so.
Ahead of this June 4th, the museum has set up a special exhibition explicitly connecting the pro-democracy protests in (Mainland) China back in 1989 to the still on-going pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong sparked by Carrie Lam seeking to pass an extradition bill that would allow people in Hong Kong to be extradited to Mainland China. At the Forefront of Anti-Totalitarianism: From June 4, 1989 to the Anti-Extradition Movement features display panels and physical items from 1989 and also 2019-2020 that inform as well as are evocative.
With regards to the 1989 section: I found that which told the tales of particiular individuals involved in the protests heart-breaking in terms of how their bid to stand up for their compatriots as well as improve their country ended up in tragedy and death. And it felt extremely ironic to learn who were involved in the Concert for Democracy in China staged in Hong Kong in support of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protestors -- since the likes of Jackie Chan, Alan Tam and Eric Tsang have come out against pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong in recent months and years, and even have been filmed happily carousing with the current head of the brutish Hong Kong police force and even an officially disgraced ex-police officer.
I think I would have come out from a visit to this museum in tears if its exhibits had focused entirely on the events of 1989. But even while it of course has not been all sunshine and smiles this past year or so (with yet another injustice due to take place tomorrow with the expected passing into law of the national anthem bill which will make it illegal to boo or make fun of the risible March of the Volunteers with its lyrics enjoining (presumably) the Chinese Communist to "Take [Chinese people's] flesh, and build it to become a new Great Wall", among other things), at least Hong Kongers are still resisting -- at times with an unexpectedly large amount of humor.
While we're on the subject of protests: it is all but impossible to ignore the protests that have broken out in various parts of the US in the wake of George Floyd being killed while in police custody. But while protests in solidarity with the US's Black Lives Matter movement have also broken out in other parts of the world, none have taken place that I know of in Hong Kong. Still, as more than one Hong Konger has taken pains to point out, it's not that we don't care and stand in solidarity. Rather, many of us are running on fumes right now after so much protesting on the ground here in Hong Kong for more than a year now and consequently are restricting our expressions of solidarity to cyberspace for now.
And while we're on the subject of expressing solidarity: I know it's a big ask but just as every June 4th, Hong Kong has remembered the Tiananmen Square massacre and stand in solidarity with the Tiananmen Mothers and others still bidding for justice to be served in Mainland China for the past 30 years, this year, we would like to ask people in the rest of the world to stand with Hong Kong in general as well as those determined to honor those who rallied for democracy for China in 1989 by lighting a candle at 8pm your time and uploading the photo or writings or songs to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #6431truth.