For decades, Hong Kong had been the only city on Chinese soil able to hold large-scale public commemorations mourning the victims of the 1989 student-led democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Now, however, Hong Kongers must accept a new reality: those annual public commemorations are disappearing.

The candle vigil at Victoria Park, which regularly drew tens of thousands of residents to publicly mourn the bloody crackdown, has not taken place since 2019. In 2020 and 2021, authorities barred any attempt to use the venue for the event, citing the Hong Kong government’s pandemic restrictions on social gatherings. And last year, police sealed off several entrances to the park after they said no applications to hold related events on the anniversary had been received.

This year, with pandemic restrictions finally lifted, there were hopes — albeit slim ones — of reinvigorating peaceful commemorations locally. These were dashed, however, with the announcement that the venue traditionally used for the commemorations would host a “Hometown Market Carnival” from Saturday to Monday.