Police are planning to deploy up to 7,000 officers – more than a fifth of the force’s strength – across Hong Kong on Friday, to handle potential gatherings in memory of victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, sources have told RTHK.
Earlier this week, RTHK was told that around 1,000 officers would be on standby on June 4 – but the sources now say more officers are needed because there are online appeals for people to gather in different locations around the city, including Mong Kok, Tsim Sha Tsui and Sha Tin.
Some officers will remain on standby until there is a need for them to be called out.
Memorials on June 4 would usually centre on Victoria Park, with the annual candlelight vigil.
But, for a second year in a row, police have banned the assembly, citing the risks associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
Sources say the park, which organisers had hoped would be able to host the 32nd anniversary of the bloodshed in Beijing, will be guarded by 3,000 officers.
"If there's reason to believe people would gather at Victoria Park, the police would use the power to seal off several areas at Victoria Park in accordance with the Public Order Ordinance," the sources said.
These include the football pitches and basketball courts, as well as the park’s lawn. But, they said, when these areas would be closed – or whether they will need to be closed at all – will depend on what happens on the ground.
The sources reiterated that if people go near Victoria Park and are dressed in black, chant slogans, or light candles, there is a chance they will be considered to be there in connection with the banned assembly.
Thousands of people defied the ban on last year’s candlelight vigil in Victoria Park, but activists who took part, including Joshua Wong and Lester Shum, have been handed jail sentences.
The sources said police would enforce the law strictly in accordance with the court's rulings on unauthorised assemblies.