Organisers already filed an appeal against Tiananmen vigil police refusal

The organisers of the Tiananmen June 4 remembrance vigil have already submitted an appeal to the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) to contest the decision by the Public Security Police Force (CPSP) not to allow the gathering at Senate Square, Macau News Agency (MNA) has learned.

Citing the current Covid-19 pandemic crisis, the CPSP did not grant authorisation to the Democratic Development Union for the vigil remembering the 1989 student movement crackdown, the first time this has happened in the last 30 years.

According to the appeal – to which MNA had access – legislator Au Kam San, as a representative of the Democratic Development Union, indicates that the association notified the CPSP on May 14 that it intended to hold the event, but that a refusal was issued by police authorities on May 20, justifying this decision by stating that the meeting breached the law for the control and prevention of contagious diseases.

Au first argues that under the current law on gatherings and demonstrations, citizens exercising their right to assemble or demonstrate only need to provide the police with a written notice and not an application, therefore not warranting permission from authorities.

He then proceeds to state that the police have not justified how this specific event would cause a risk to public health, and points to the recent resumption of normal public and private operations in the city.

‘There have been no new cases in Macau for more than 40 days, the SAR Government has initiated a consumption card scheme, and the market in Macau is booming. Numerous restaurants, teahouses, supermarkets, and retail stores are crowded’, the appeal document indicated.

The appeal also argues that, after collecting the opinions of the education and health departments, the Macau government has indicated that the threat of contagion in the city had ‘waned’ to a level that allows classes in local secondary schools to be resumed.

‘Tens of thousands of young students come from different families. If an epidemic spreads through this channel, involving thousands of households, the consequences can be extremely serious. However, the SAR government still decided to resume classes after careful consideration. It can be seen that the authorities are confident in controlling the epidemic’, the document states.

The organisers added that the outdoor June 4 candlelight vigil that triggered the appeal would only gather 200 to 300 people, and that they would be ‘happy to cooperate with the SAR government and competent entities to make appropriate arrangements in accordance with their guidelines’.

‘The organizers of the vigil have never relaxed their vigilance and are carefully considering how the rally will allow participants to maintain a sufficient social distance, and are also considering the opening of an online live broadcast so that some participants can participate online in order to reduce crowding’, Au says.

The legislator then states that the planned assembly did not refuse to cooperate or comply with orders and guidelines issued by authorities, so there was no illegal behaviour by the organisers.

However, still ‘without consultation and any communication with the organizer’, the police made a decision not to allow the assembly on the grounds that the relevant assembly violated the local disease contagion prevention law, the appeal reads.

Under the Macau law for gatherings and demonstrations, after an appeal is submitted to the TUI, the top court has to issue a decision within five days.

The Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) had also previously withdrawn an authorisation given to the association to hold its annual photographic exhibition on the democratization movement of 1989 and its crackdown, which is usually held at the same location as the vigil.

Hong Kong government authorities have also banned an annual vigil for the Tiananmen Square massacre due to physical distancing measures limiting gatherings to a maximum of eight people having been extended.

This way, and if the TUI sustains the decision made by the police, this year no Tiananmen vigils will be held, neither in Macau nor in Hong Kong.