Amnesty International has accused Hong Kong’s police of attacking residents’ right to freedom of expression after six people were arrested in Causeway Bay on June 4 in connection with efforts to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown. Hana Young, the group’s deputy regional director, on Sunday said that the arrests of those attempting to peacefully commemorate the event were “an insult” to the memory of those who died during the incident in 1989. She also accused police of using “harassment and indiscriminate targeting” against people who were peacefully honouring the victims of the crackdown. The six, comprising five men and one woman, aged between 19 to 80, were detained for offences including allegedly inciting others to participate in an unauthorised assembly, obstructing police officers in the execution of their duties and possession of an offensive weapon. The force on Saturday maintained a heavy presence in and near Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, which was used to host an annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the incident before authorities banned the event for three consecutive years. Will Hong Kong’s June 4 memories fade or can overseas events carry the torch? Cordoning off sections of the park out of concerns of “unlawful assembly”, officers opted to stop-and-search residents who marked the occasion in a low-key manner, such as carrying flowers, candles or flashing lights from their mobile phones in the area. Lau Shan-ching, a 69-year-old veteran activist with the League of Social Democrats, was arrested for inciting others to participate in an unauthorised assembly at about 7pm. The force accused the activist of chanting slogans in Victoria Park and refusing to cooperate with officers. But Lau, who was released after paying a HK$1,000 (US$127) bail on Sunday morning, said he did not utter a word and was taken away by police within a minute of arriving at the park. To mark the occasion, Lau wore a T-shirt with a drawing of the late Li Wangyang, a dissident who spent 22 years in prison after taking part in the original June 4 protest. Of the other five arrestees, four were taken away for obstructing police officers. The group included a 25-year-old van driver and a 19-year-old passenger, who were accused of illegally parking at Great George Street at about 8pm. A 59-year-old woman and an 80-year-old man were also arrested for the same charge after the pair allegedly refused to cooperate with police officers. A 70-year-old foreigner, meanwhile, was arrested for possessing an offensive weapon after he was found with a pocket knife in Victoria Park at about 8pm. Amnesty’s deputy regional director, however, praised the persistence of those who attempted to mark the June 4 anniversary on Saturday. “The creativity and determination of those who came out to commemorate the Tiananmen crackdown, despite the threat of arrest and harassment, shows that the truth can never be completely silenced by repressive governments,” Young said. “The Hong Kong authorities must end their politically motivated campaign to silence people daring to hold China to account over the horrific events of June 4.” Parts of Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to close on June 4 after man held over online threats A police spokeswoman said the force had always respected people’s freedom of expression, speech and assembly and were duty-bound to take appropriate action to maintain law and order, as well as safeguard public safety. “Police reiterate that all arrest actions are strictly based on evidence collected and in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong, regardless of the background and political stance of an individual,” she said. Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the semi-official think tank, the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, defended the police’s heavy presence. “They are not worrying that a lot of people will show up in Causeway Bay to commemorate the event,” he said. “They are only doing so to prevent anyone from exploiting the loophole to stir up troubles, which will be played up by foreign media.” He added that he had expected fewer people to publicly mourn the victims of the crackdown following the disbandment last year of the vigil’s organiser, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, as well as the firm enforcement of the Beijing-imposed national security law. During last year’s anniversary, residents held sporadic commemorations across the city by lighting candles and flashing their phone lights in a show of defiance. The move was in response to the force shutting down Victoria Park to prevent a repeat of 2020 when thousands forced their way into the venue to participate in an illegal assembly.