Organisers of the annual June the Fourth candlelight vigil had briefly defied the authorities’ ban and kept hosting a Lunar New Year flower stall at Victoria Park.
Minutes into Saturday, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) terminated the contract for the stall, saying they displayed banners irrelevant to the selling of flowers.
The Alliance in Support of Democratic Patriotic Movements of China had put up banners such as "Vindicate June Fourth", "For Freedom, Fight Together". They were later covered up.
The group tried to keep operating the stall from around 7 am.
Alliance chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said ever since the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown of the democracy movement in 1989, they had been able to host the Lunar New Year flower stall for more than 30 years non-stop. He said he's heartbroken to be suppressed.
Lee noted that even last year, the Alliance was able to display similar messages, but now they've been told to close the stall even before they could actually start selling flowers.
At around 8:30 am, several workers from the FEHD arrived at the stall and put up plastic tape and metal barriers around it to cordon off the area.
About an hour later, security guards moved in to surround the stall - after which the Alliance decided to pack up and leave.
Lee criticised the officials for not discussing the matter or explaining how they had violated the contract with them.
The Alliance said they will now pass on the flowers to community workers for free, so that they won’t go to waste and that their message could still reach the public.
An Alliance spokesman, Richard Tsoi, said the authorities failed to give a proper explanation in cancelling their contract.
"We did the same [as before], but it's the first time government departments try to suppress us," Tsoi said.
"We don't know whether it's because of the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong, and the political situation getting worse..... We are quite concerned."
He added that he expects more suppression both for the Alliance's commemoration of June the Fourth and other types of action by members of society.
Last updated: 2021-02-06 HKT 13:09