Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward
The city’s memorial for June 4, 1989, has become an important symbol of its autonomy and this year, of all years, the threat of arrest was not going to stop people from remembering the most brutal of Chinese crackdowns.
With the introduction of an anti-subversion law just weeks away many fear their freedoms will soon be stripped away.
Not only was the banning of the vigil an indication of the disregard given to sentiment and importance surrounding this date, but the legislative council forged ahead with a vote on a controversial national anthem bill.
Despite protests from pro-democracy lawmakers the bill which punishes insulting the national anthem passed almost unanimously.
But during this year of protest in Hong Kong a new anthem was written and it was that - ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ - which was sung in full voice as thousands gathered for tonight’s illegal vigil.
In Beijing, such memorials are strictly forbidden. They have never and would never, be attempted. This morning the relatives of some of the victims mourned at their graves but watching their every move was around 40 police officers.
The families of those who died in the atrocity have been living under constant surveillance for the past 31 years ago.
The Chinese Government prefers not to acknowledge the killings on June 4 but when asked and willing to give and answer they insist the actions of the army that day were justified.
What is happening in Hong Kong was described to us as the same suppression but in slow motion, and so far, not so deadly. Next week will mark one year since one million people took to the streets protesting against an extradition bill to China. The issue which has sparked a year of unrest has now been replaced with a far more threatening prospect.
The National security law shakes the very foundations of the autonomous region. It was imposed directly by Beijing, setting a worrying precedent. That is why with their future and freedoms at stake thousands of Hong Kong people, young and old, were determined to come out tonight and remember the past.