British Columbia

Hundreds gather in Vancouver to mark three years since crackdown on Hong Kong protests

Hundreds gathered in Vancouver Sunday to commemorate the third anniversary of protests in Hong Kong.

Organizers re-enacted violent scenes from the police crackdown three years ago

Demonstrators at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, June 12, 2022 mark the three-year anniversary of the 2019 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. (CBC News)

Hundreds gathered in Vancouver on Sunday to commemorate the third anniversary of a crackdown on protests in Hong Kong.

Organizers of the event at the Vancouver Art Gallery re-enacted scenes from a June 12, 2019 confrontation between Hong Kong police and protesters, with participants dressed in riot police helmets using batons against participants holding umbrellas.

Protesters held white pieces of paper, explaining they represented free speech being taken away. 

The event's goal was to raise awareness about alleged police use of excessive force amid demonstrations against the China-controlled administration's controversial extradition bill.

Parkie Li, who took part in Sunday's event in Vancouver, held a gold-coloured statue of a pro-democracy protester. 

"We really want Hong Kong to have their own freedom," Li said. "So we made a statue here in Vancouver and try to let more people to know about the story of Hong Kong."

Sunday's protest in Vancouver was just one of many events held around the world this weekend to mark three years since anti-government protests in Hong Kong were met with tear gas and rubber bullets, as thousands took to the streets to criticize proposed legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China.

Demonstrators stage a re-enactment at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday, June 12, 2022 to mark the three-year anniversary of the 2019 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. (CBC News)

"It was a very significant moment in Hong Kong," said an organizer with Vancouver Activists of Hong Kong who identified himself as Tab. CBC News has agreed not to use his real name because he fears for his safety.

"To me it's the beginning of the end of Hong Kong, in terms of keeping [China's] 'one country, two systems' promise.

"And it went downhill from there ... Hong Kong has lost its freedom — freedom of the press, judicial independence, all gone."

The controversial extradition bill was ultimately shelved, but protesters outside the art gallery on Sunday said concerns around freedom and democracy remain. A year after the protests, Beijing passed the national security law, which allows authorities to crack down on subversive and secessionist activity in the city.

For one participant in Vancouver on Sunday, the protesters' cause was deeply personal. 

"Even though I am nobody, I was persecuted by the authorities [for] financial crimes," a participant who identified himself as Ricky S. told CBC News. "Agencies against corruption have called me when I was returning to Canada with my passport.

"The border control tried to stop me from leaving Hong Kong, even though I have violated no law."

Several participants in Vancouver said despite the painful memories, they also felt a sense of hope. Some said they were new to Canada, and felt they could finally protest in peace.

"That's why it is so important, and that is what we are doing here," said organizer Tab. "Only when you know these things can we fight against them."


David P. Ball


David P. Ball is a multimedia journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. He has previously reported for the Toronto Star, Agence France-Presse, and The Tyee, and has won awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Jack Webster Foundation. You can send story tips or ideas to, or contact him on Twitter.

With files from Yasmin Gandham, The Associated Press