Hong Kong gov’t removes Tiananmen Web page

Hong Kong officials said Friday they have removed a page dedicated to victims of a 1989 crackdown on protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square from a government website, in what democracy activists said is part of a recent wave of political censorship in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.

Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which oversees burials, on Thursday launched a website that allows citizens to create pages mourning their loved ones for free. One person set up a page for the victims of the June 1989 military crackdown on student pro-democracy protesters, which killed at least hundreds of people.

The department said in a short statement Friday that it deleted the page because it was an “inappropriate” use of the website.

Critics called it a clear case of political screening.

“You have no reason to censor information on the Internet. If people aren’t using the website to mourn someone, then that’s a different story. But they are. How do you decide who you can mourn and who you can’t?” democracy activist Richard Tsoi said. “This is clearly political censorship.”

Hong Kong authorities also outraged local citizens by confiscating two statues dedicated to the Tiananmen victims before the 21st anniversary of the bloodshed on June 4. While the military suppression is still a taboo subject on the mainland, it is openly discussed in this former British colony that is promised freedom of speech as part of its special political status.

A picture of the Tiananmen page published by the Ming Pao Daily News showed it was decorated with a picture of Tiananmen victims being rushed to a hospital on a bicycle and an image of white flowers. The page gave the name of the diseased as “all casualties of the June 4 Incident,” Ming Pao said. One of the dozen or so visitors to the page left a message saying: “All the souls that were butchered by the Chinese Communist Party: I hope you will rest in peace … I hope your spirit lives on. Let’s build a democratic China,” according to the newspaper.

Associated Press