“Overnight, Hong Kong has gone from rule of law to rule by fear,” says Lee Cheuk-yan, a veteran activist and former legislator.
Lee chairs the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which established the world’s only museum dedicated to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest movement in Beijing. Afraid the museum, and its advocacy of an end to one-party rule in China, may fall foul of the new law, the alliance is rushing to raise $200,000 to digitize its archives.
While Lee and his colleagues discussed moving the artifacts abroad, including video footage and items donated by mothers of students killed in the bloody military crackdown, doing so seemed like handing victory to the Chinese government and its attempt to erase the event from collective memory. But keeping the operation running is now a game of dramatically higher stakes.
“Our worry is that the law is so vague about everything and so broadly defined that we don’t know how they will categorize our organization,” Lee says. “Will they strike at us?”