May 23, 2019
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Activists reopen controversial Tiananmen memorial museum in Hong Kong

By Mar Sánchez-Cascado

Hong Kong, Apr 26 (efe-epa).- As representatives of over 100 countries gathered in China's capital Friday for the second forum of the huge New Silk Road initiative, activists in Hong Kong reopened a unique museum that the central government will no doubt snub: the June 4th memorial museum of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

The museum, which has been homeless since July 11, 2016, aims to offer Chinese citizens a chance to learn more about the bloody pro-democracy protests that gripped Beijing between Apr. 15 and June 4 of 1989, the history of which is censored by the Chinese government.

"If we do not remember the past we will lose sight of the future," Albert Ho, president of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, said during the museum's official opening.

For Ho, the perseverance of the HKA in sourcing a permanent home for the museum despite the obstacles China has consistently placed is anchored in a "commitment to uphold memory and the pursuit of justice and hope for the future of our country."

The new headquarters of the controversial project is nestled in the bustling streets of the Kowloon downtown district and is a pioneering endeavor: the first permanent space worldwide dedicated to the memory of the civil unrest that unfolded in China's capital in 1989.

Among the things on show are a fragment of a bullet that pierced activist Zhang Jian's femur in the early hours of June 4 of that year, a replica lego sculpture of "Tank Man" - the name given to an unidentified man who stood in front of a convoy of tanks on June 5 - as well as press cuttings, large photographs and videos of tanks closing in on the city center.

The president of the HKA vowed to continue to fight against tyranny and terror in front of a large group of international reporters.

Although the museum has opened its doors in Hong Kong which enjoys a large level of autonomy, the shouts of some 20 protesters demonstrating against the reopening of the memorial could be heard during its launch.

The HKA opened a similar museum in 2014 but it was forced to close it down after numerous complaints from the landlords.

The museum remained homeless until early April when the HKA signed off on the reopening of the project.

The memorial project has been embroiled in investigations by the Hong Kong police and been heavily criticized by pro-China activists who consider the project gives a biased account of history.

Ho told reporters that the museum has taken measures to protect the collection from vandalism by installing 24-hour security cameras and guarding the premises with a heavy duty metal door.

The Tiananmen demonstrations started as a student-led movement that demanded democratic reforms following the death of reformist Hu Yaobang on Apr. 15.

There are no official figures on the number of fatalities during the protests.

The massacre is a very sensitive topic for the Chinese government which censures any information relating to the events that unfolded that year.EFE-EPA

msc/ch/sh

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