Hong Kong elderly pro-democracy activist known as “Grandma Wong” has been arrested by the police as she marched solo to commemorate the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in a vivid illustration of the zero protest tolerance now wielded by authorities.
Alexandra Wong, 65, has been arrested on Sunday (May 30) on suspicion of taking part in an unauthorised assembly and inciting others to join as she marched solo towards Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.
Wong has been a regular fixture of the huge democracy protests that swept Hong Kong in 2019 and could often be seen waving a union jack flag, a symbol of her dissatisfaction with Beijing’s rule since the city was handed to China by the former colonial power in 1997.
Protest is now all but outlawed in Hong Kong and authorities have used both the threat of the coronavirus and security concerns to ban demonstrations.
A vigil planned for this Friday – the 32nd anniversary of Beijing’s 1989 crackdown on democracy protests in Tiananmen Square – has been denied permission for the second year in a row.
Authorities have cited the coronavirus, although Hong Kong is currently celebrating no local transmission cases of unknown origin for the last month.
Activists had also sought permission for a small Tiananmen-themed march on Sunday to the Liaison Office, which represents the central government in the city, but it was also denied permission.
Wong turned up anyway that afternoon holding as sign that read “32, June 4, Tiananmen’s lament” and a yellow umbrella – the latter a symbol of Hong Kong’s democracy movement.
The South China Morning Post said the pensioner started chanting slogans in a park before heading towards the Liaison Office by herself, while being followed and filmed by police.
She was stopped twice.
“I’m only by myself, just an old lady here. Why stop me?” the Post quoted Wong as telling officers.
Soon afterwards she was arrested.
Police confirmed a 65-year-old woman surnamed Wong had been arrested for “knowingly participating in an unauthorised assembly and attempting to incite others to join an unauthorised assembly”.
Hong Kong’s democracy movement has been crushed by a broad crackdown on dissent over the last year, including the imposition of a sweeping security law that criminalises much dissent.
In the middle of the 2019 protests Wong disappeared for more than a year.
She resurfaced saying she had been detained by mainland authorities during a trip to Shenzhen, a neighbouring city where she lived at the time. (Source: CNA)