‘Tiananmen detainees’ defend right to pro-Beijing demonstration
The two sisters detained in Macau on the day of the prohibited vigil in memory of the Tiananmen massacre defended in declarations to Lusa the right to the pro-Beijing demonstration that took place 24 hours later, without any police action.
“They are free to express their opinion. We don’t agree with their opinion, but they have every right to do what they want. The police are being reasonable with them, but not with us, ”said Cherry Au and Christy Au, who are being investigated for illegal meetings.
The girls are both daughters of pro-democracy deputy Au Kam San, one of the organizers of the Tiananmen vigil that this year was banned in Macau for the first time in three decades and ended up taking place inside a home, with online transmission ‘on the night of June 4th.
The covid-19 pandemic was given as justification by the authorities to ban the initiative. But the next day, a group of about 40 people filled a tourist bus and demonstrated in various parts of Macau, in support of the national security law that Beijing wants to impose on Hong Kong, the neighboring Chinese special administrative region that in 2019 was shaken by major pro-democracy protests.
Two candles, a book on the Tiananmen massacre and a photograph for social media, after the vigil inside four walls, will have ‘justified’ the police intervention, the young Macao residents said ironically.
The ‘on wheels’ demonstration in support of legislation that the Chinese regime decided to impose on the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong, went unnoticed by the surveillance of the Macau Police, which says it was aware of the initiative only through ‘media’.
Faced with the apparent duality of criteria, the security forces guaranteed that they were going to investigate the existence of irregularities in the initiative “to support the central government”, but they went ahead with a first conclusion: “We did not consider this activity as a demonstration”.
Cherry and Christy Au live in the UK. The first studies fashion photography, the second biochemistry. There they have been studying, respectively, for 13 and 9 years.
“We always came to Macau during the summer holidays. In my mind everything always seemed reasonable, so it is a kind of surprise to me [what happened] and, frankly, a little ridiculous ”, said Christy, 25, one year younger than her sister.
“It’s weird, definitely. We used to think we were in a democratic city, ”added Cherry.
On the night of June 4, sitting under a tree, in front of the church of São Domingos, they were initially approached by plainclothes policemen. Minutes later, by another group of agents.
On the third approach, they were asked to speak in a van: “We asked why. We were told it was to verify our identity. What they had already done twice. The conversation was casual, with a police woman. (…) We were taken to the police station and spent three hours there. (…) Every half hour they came to talk to us, asking what we were doing, who had given us the candles, who had given us the book, if that had been spontaneous. They saw everything we had with us, photographed everything (…) and ended up with the two candles and the book ”, they said.
The worst was reserved for the end: “We were told that they were considering accusing us of an illegal meeting. (…) We even asked if they could set up a meeting and the first time they told us that even if it were a person, if they were in a place for a long time, this could be seen as a meeting ”, they recalled.
Cherry and Christy say they are not afraid of the investigation and of possible sanctions, which guarantee not knowing because they were not even curious to try to know what they are. “We can’t do anything now. We haven’t done anything wrong. (…) We wanted to take a picture, on the bench, with the church in the background, which was where we used to do the vigil. We only had the book and two candles, we were super discreet, (…) we were never shouting ‘slogans’, or showing posters, making speeches ”, they assert.
The eldest, she remembered a regret: that her mother published, the next day, on her father’s Facebook, the image that the young woman took with her cell phone the night she was arrested: “it was nothing special” and that it can ruin your reputation as a fashion photography student, he joked, amid smiles.
In the black-and-white photograph, Christy is seen from the back, seated on a bench, with the church in front, and a part of the square, almost deserted. Next to the young woman, on the bench, two candles flank and ‘light up’ the book about Tianamen.
Hong Kong and Macau are the only places in China where the Tianamen massacre is allowed to be reported, which Beijing does not recognize. The event took place on June 4, 1989. The student movement from which democratic reforms were demanded of the Chinese regime was violently repressed, causing an undetermined number of deaths.
This year, for the first time, the authorities have banned the usual vigils that re