Tiananmen Museum in Hong Kong Closes Amid Dispute Over Event License With Chinese Communist Party

A Tiananmen museum in Hong Kong was closed just three days after opening by the Chinese Communist Party after an investigation began on whether it had the licenses to conduct public exhibitions, the Associated Press reported.

The organizers of the June 4 Museum want to protect staff and visitors while they seek legal advice. Authorities have also banned public ceremonies for a second year as part of China's efforts to eradicate pro-democracy activism in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong was the last place in Chinese territory where the violent 1989 crackdown on protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square was marked with candlelight vigils, among other events.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Tiananmen Square Massacre Museum 2019
Artifacts recovered from the scene of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, including bullets, are displayed at the June 4 Museum in Hong Kong on April 26, 2019. The museum, which opened at its new location in the Kowloon district in Hong Kong on April 26, exhibits items related to the event. Vivek Prakash/Getty Images

Public memorials have long been banned on the mainland. Relatives of people who were killed in the crackdown often are detained or harassed by authorities ahead of the anniversary.

The group, which has organized candlelight vigils in Hong Kong in past years that attracted thousands of people, said the museum received more than 550 visitors since it opened Sunday.

Beijing is tightening control over Hong Kong, prompting complaints it is eroding the autonomy promised when the former British colony returned to China in 1997 and hurting its status as a financial center. Pro-democracy activists have been sentenced to prison under a national security law imposed following anti-government protests that began in 2019.

In past years, thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong's Victoria Park to light candles and sing in memory of people killed when the military attacked protesters in and around Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds and possibly thousands of people.

Hong Kong authorities have banned the vigil for the second consecutive year, citing social distancing restrictions and public health risks from the coronavirus pandemic.

Critics say authorities use the pandemic as an excuse to silence pro-democracy voices in Hong Kong.

Last year, thousands gathered in Victoria Park despite the ban and police warnings. Weeks later, more than 20 activists who took part in the vigil were arrested. This year, organizers have urged residents to mark June 4 by lighting a candle wherever they are.

Officers at June 4 Memorial Museum
Officers from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department ask staff questions at the June 4 Memorial Museum, which is run by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, in Hong Kong on Tuesday. Vincent Yu/Associated Press