Zoom meeting of US-based Chinese activist group to commemorate Tiananmen Square massacre results in brief account suspension
Video conferencing app Zoom suspended the account of a group remembering a brutal crackdown by China’s Communist rulers in the late 1980s.
According to the BBC, Zoom suspended the account of a group of US-based the Humanitarian China group.
The suspension came after the group held a meeting on Zoom to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre on 4 June 1989, which saw the Chinese army crush pro democracy protests with a large loss of life (the Chinese government said only 200 civilians were killed – but others believe the death toll to be as high as 10,000).
According to the Humanitarian China group, its account was shut just days after the event on 31 May, which was attended by about 250 people including some activists who called in from China.
The Zoom meeting was to commemorate the 31st anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square massacre.
Zoom reportedly said the account had been closed to comply with “local laws.”
That said, the account was later re-activated.
“When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws,” Zoom said in a statement emailed to media organisations.
“We aim to limit the actions we take to those necessary to comply with local law and continuously review and improve our process on these matters,” the statement added.
The BBC cited a report in the South China Morning Post as stated that the meeting speakers included the mother of a slain protester, a Beijing resident imprisoned 17 years for his participation, and several student leaders who had been exiled.
“The event marked the first time so many high-profile figures with direct ties to the 1989 pro-democracy movement had come together in one space,” Zhou Fengsuo, the president of Humanitarian China, who was himself a student leader at the Tiananmen protests, reportedly told the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
The BBC reported that another Tiananmen activist said he had been locked out of Zoom since 22 May when he tried to host an online discussion on China’s influence around the world.
Lee Cheuk-yan told the AFP news agency that his account was suspended before the talk started.
“I asked Zoom whether this is political censorship but it has never replied to me,” said Lee, who is chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance – the organiser of Hong Kong’s annual vigil for the victims of the Tiananmen massacre.
He said the group had held two previous talks on Zoom with no issue.
Zoom has proved to be a highly popular video conferencing app during the global Coronavirus pandemic.
However some remain worried over its security.
The US Senate for example has advised its members not to use Zoom, due to privacy and security concerns, which the firm is working hard to address.
Other firms such as SpaceX and others have also banned its use.
There has also been criticism of “zoombombing”, where uninvited guests crashed meetings.
Last month for example Singapore’s education ministry suspended teachers’ use of Zoom following “very serious incidents” of disruption. One involved obscene images appearing on screens and Caucasian men making lewd comments during a geography lesson with teenaged girls