Hong Kong's Tiananmen museum turns online

Scores of colorful posters and shelves of books may soon disappear from the June 4th Museum in Hong Kong.

The museum is dedicated to documenting the events which took place that fateful day in 1989, when Chinese troops cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Now, with fear and uncertainty looming over Hong Kong under China's new national security law, the museum is turning online -- to keep the collective memory of that event alive.

Lee Cheuk-Yan, whose organisation manages the museum, says they have raised nearly $8,000 U.S. dollars for their cause so far.

"And we do not know whether this June 4th museum, you know, after the passing of the law, will they see this as sort of activities that are 'subversion.' And therefore, I think the best protection for our artifacts and materials that we have is to digitalise everything first and then put everything online."

Public discussion of Tiananmen is censored in mainland China, where the topic remains taboo.

The June 4th Museum is one of the few places where the Tiananmen crackdown is still openly remembered, at least for now.

But if the museum's activities are deemed to be "subversive" under the new security law, Lee fears that could all change soon.

Under the sweeping legislation, which came into force just last week, secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces -- can all be punished by life in prison.

"And then we hope that the physical artifacts will not be confiscated in the future and that is exactly what really worries us, is that, because those artifacts are donated by the families of the victims during the Tiananmen Square massacre and for them to give it to the museum is to show the world."

The city's pro-democracy protesters have denounced what they see as China's gradual erosion of their freedoms.

Lee organises Hong Kong's annual vigil marking the Tiananmen anniversary, which police cancelled this year citing health risks.

"And we believe that you can ban the rally but you cannot ban the heart, the remembrance, our memories, you cannot ban that. And you cannot ban our candlelight. So we will continue to remind the world what had happened back 31 years ago."

Video Transcript

- Scores of colorful posters and shelves of books may soon be disappearing from the June 4th museum in Hong Kong. The museum is dedicated to documenting the events which took place that fateful day in 1989, when Chinese troops cracked down on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Now, with fear and uncertainty looming over Hong Kong under China's new national security law, the museum is turning online to keep the collective memory of that event alive.

Lee Cheuk-yan, whose organization manages the museum, says they have raised nearly $8,000 US for their cause so far.

LEE CHEUK-YAN: And we do not know whether this June 4th museum, you know, after the passing of the law, will they see this as sort of activities that are subversion? And therefore I think the best protection for our artifacts and the materials that we have is to digitalize everything first, and then put everything online.

- Public discussion of Tiananmen is censored in mainland China, where the topic remains taboo. The June 4th museum is one of the few places where the Tiananmen crackdown is still openly remembered, at least for now. But if the museum's activities are deemed to be subversive under the new security law, Lee fears that could all change soon. Under the sweeping legislation which came into force just last week, secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces can all be punished by life in prison.

LEE CHEUK-YAN: And then we hope that the physical artifact will not be confiscated in the future. And that is exactly what really worry us, because those artifacts are donated by the families of the victim during the Tiananmen Square massacre. And for them to give it to the museum is for the world-- to show the world.

- The city's pro-democracy protesters have denounced what they see as China's gradual erosion of their freedoms. Lee organizes Hong Kong's annual vigil marking the Tiananmen anniversary, which police canceled this year, citing health risks.

LEE CHEUK-YAN: You can ban the rally, but you cannot ban the hearts, the remembrance, our memory. You cannot ban that. And you cannot ban our candlelight. So we will continue to remind the world what had happened back 31 year ago.