The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China said that the online launch of the June 4th Museum had been organised and crowdfunded overseas after a “political risk assessment” had been conducted.
The museum’s physical premises were forced to close in June this year, amid a licensing row with the the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.
In a statement, the Alliance said that amid intensifying political repression, the online museum would operate independently from the Alliance. It will be managed by an overseas curatorial team and hosted outside Hong Kong.
The online museum, which can be found at 8964museum.com currently hosts six “pavilions” covering time, space, people, Hong Kong, literature and art, and media. These “pavilions” offer a detailed timeline of the student-led pro-democracy movement in Beijing, including the crackdown, and its aftermath. They also contain lists of those killed and forced into exile.
The museum – which takes its name from the date the crackdown occurred – first opened in 2019 to mark the 30th anniversary. Its mission was to deepen public knowledge about the 1989 democracy movement and bring about a more fair and just society.
Hong Kong traditionally hosts the largest candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims on 4 June, but vigils in 2020 and 2021 have been cancelled by authorities citing the coronavirus pandemic. Their cancellation coincides with the imposition of a sweeping national security law, enacted by Beijing, which has seen at least117 people arrested in a year.
The Alliance has been responsible for organising the vigils, but it has recently come under fire from authorities. It’s vice-chairwoman Chow Hang-tung was arrested on 3 June this year and charged with incitement to knowingly take part in an unauthorised vigil. Also jailed is the Alliance’s chairman, Lee Cheuk-Yan, accused of participating in an unauthorised vigil.
Hong Kong authorities deny curbing human rights and freedoms and say that all arrests made have nothing to do with background, profession or political beliefs.
Chang Ping, the museum’s Germany-based curator told the South China Morning Post: “What Hong Kong is experiencing today is actually the continuation of the Tiananmen crackdown. We are saddened by the pressure, torture and pain that the Hong Kong alliance and courageous protesters have gone through”.
“But that also makes us believe in the museum’s value even more,” he said, “it is not only documenting the struggle, it is a struggle itself.”