Police stand guard in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on Saturday. AFP
Saturday marks the anniversary of Chinese troops opening fire to end the student-led unrest in and around the square in central Beijing. China has never provided a full death toll, but rights groups and witnesses say the figure could run into the thousands.
"To remember is to resist," prominent Chinese human rights lawyer Teng Biao told the media from the United States. "If nobody remembers, the suffering of the people will never stop and the perpetrators will continue their crimes with impunity."
Chinese authorities ban any public commemoration of the event on the mainland, and the Hong Kong authorities have clamped down too.
Anti-government demonstrators protest in tear gas on New Year’s Eve in Hong Kong on Jan. 1, 2020. Reuters
In Hong Kong's Victoria Park, where people had come together for an annual vigil before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, authorities blocked off main parts of the venue and warned people against illegal gatherings.
The city's leader, Carrie Lam, said this week that any events to commemorate those killed in the 1989 crackdown would be subject to national security laws.
China imposed a tough national security law on Hong Kong in June 2020 punishing acts of subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Hong Kong's government has banned the annual vigil since 2020, citing coronavirus restrictions. Some democracy campaigners accuse authorities of using those rules to suppress activism, a claim that officials reject.
Current COVID-19 restrictions allow up to eight people to dine together, though gatherings outside are capped at four people.