A Christian man by the name of Gao Heng who volunteers at the Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church was detained by Chinese police in the Guangdong province on June 4 after he held up a sign to commemorate the Tiananmen massacre in a public space. The historic protests that occurred on June 4, 1989 saw the deaths of thousands of students and protesters at the hands of China's People's Liberation Army who sought to silence dissenters of the government who had been rallying for weeks, beginning on April 15, 1989.
Gao was captured by Guangzhou municipal state security police at about 1 p.m. on Saturday in an underpass of the Guangzhou Metro Line 2, where he held up the commemorative card, Radio Free Asia reported. Guangzhou Bible Reformed Church pastor Huang Xiaoing went to the state security police and called the Guangzhou municipal police department to inquire after Gao's capture but both refused to provide any information on Gao's arrest.
"I'm guessing it's because he took a picture of himself at the Nanpu metro station near here, holding up a sign that said 'Pray for China on June 4'," Pastor Huang said. "He also made a comment. The authorities are pretty nervous [at this time]."
The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) desperately tries to silence people from speaking up about the Tiananmen massacre that occurred years ago. It has already banned public memorials that honor those who were lost to the violent killings in the hands of the People's Liberation Army that sought to silence dissenters. In fact, the CCP is trying so hard to rebrand the historic event that they do not call it the Tiananmen massacre of protesting students and instead calls it a "counterrevolutionary rebellion."
Chinese authorities have once again banned annual memorials in Hong Kong to commemorate the Tiananmen massacre. According to Human Rights Watch, CCP used COVID-19 restrictions as an excuse to prohibit the public from gathering and remembering the event. On May 31, CCP authorities even arrested a 65-year-old activist known as Grandma Wong for "unauthorized assembly." The CCP has also threatened several Catholic churches in Hong Kong, warning them that any remembrance of the Tiananmen massacre violates China's National Security Law.
"The ban on Hong Kong's candlelight vigil speaks volumes about the Chinese government's human rights record: that 32 years after the Tiananmen Massacre, they have only deepened repression," Chinese researcher Yaqui Wang at HRW explained. "But suppressing the truth has only fueled demands for justice and accountability."
Now, another Chinese activist is worried that Gao would suffer the same fate as Guangzhou activist Zhang Wuzhou, who was taken by CCP authorities and imprisoned for almost three years for going on a solo memorial in Guangzhou's Baiyun Mountain Park to mark the Tiananmen massacre anniversary in June last year. He described Gao as an "honest person, loyal and full of enthusiasm" and a "long-term volunteer" at the church.
Pastor Huang continues to worry about Gao amidst China's political climate especially considering the aftermath of the Tiananmen massacre. He told RFA, "We can't change this government, but as a church, we have a responsibility to tell the government what it has done wrong. [We want] the party to face up to their past mistakes, and what took place on June 4, 1989."