Organisers to appeal to top court police decision refusing Tiananmen vigil

Legislator Au Kam San told Macau News Agency that the Democratic Development Union – responsible for the annual June 4 vigil remembering the 1989 student movement crackdown – will appeal to the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) against the decision by police authorities to refuse authorisation for the remembrance event to be held at Senate Square.

According to Au, a member of the association and one of the vigil organisers, the appeal will be submitted to the top court in the next few days.

“We don’t think [the CPSP decision] is justified, and we will plan our next move once the court has a decision,” Au told MNA.

Under the current Macau law, people or entities wishing to hold meetings or demonstrations in public places must notify the Public Security Police Force (CPSP) in writing at least three working days in advance or 15 days at the most.

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

The organisers can appeal the CPSP refusal to the TUI within eight days from being notified, with a decision issued within five days.

“CPSP cites preventing crowd gatherings in the fight against Covid-19 as an excuse, but the e-voucher scheme launched by the government this month has led to crowds and queues at supermarkets, restaurants, shops, and so forth. It seems there is a double standard,” Au noted.

Meanwhile, legislator Ng Kuok Cheong, one of the vigil organisers, also considered that the motives for the decision by the police “were political” and that the organisers “were not very optimistic about the court’s decision”.

“Of course the police have some reason in terms of public health protection and we must discuss how to respond to this. We will always cooperate with the government and make arrangements to protect public health but now we have been completely denied […] We are not very optimistic because we know in political cases the court always sides with the central government,” Ng told MNA.

The legislator also stated that the organisation would discuss if they would present an alternative location for the vigil or if to insist on the usual Senate Square location.

Macau has not reported any new Covid-19 cases for 41 days.

The Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) had previously withdrawn an authorisation given to the association to hold its annual photographic exhibition on the democratization movement of 1989 and its crackdown, which is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

According to Au, the CPSP and IAM decisions “affect the image of Macau” and the impression that the implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ has been a success.

The IAM President, Jose Tavares, previously justified the authorisation withdrawal over the need for the IAM administrative council to “standardise” all requests by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to use public spaces, and stated that public spaces can only be used for activities related to culture, recreation, leisure, and sport, while also citing issues of public health.

Afterwards, Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon also stated that the decision for the exhibition ‘re-authorisation’ was not political.

“They need to explain why. Although it is technically the decision of the CPSP for the assembly and IAM for the exhibition, the Secretaries and Chief Executive could not just say ‘I don’t know’,” legislator Au added.

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 police decision, this year no Tiananmen vigils will be held either in Macau or Hong Kong.

“The June 4 incident is taboo in Mainland China but so far Hong Kong and Macau could still discuss and remember this event publicly with the vigils due to ‘One Country, Two Systems’. If we could not do it anymore, it deals a huge blow to the success of the implementation of ‘One Country, Two Systems’,” legislator Au stated.

*With Tony Lai