Videoconferencing company Zoom temporarily shut down the account of a U.S.-based activist group days after it held an event commemorating the 31st anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square protests.
Humanitarian China, an organization focused on providing relief for political prisoners and activists, held the Zoom conference on May 31. A week later June 7, the account used for the conference displayed a message that it had been shut down.
The meeting was streamed by 4,000 people and joined by more than 250 participants worldwide, including organizers of the Hong Kong Candlelight Vigil, writers and scholars, former student leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests and the Tiananmen Mothers.
The Tiananmen Square student-led protest has long been a sensitive topic in China’s political history.
On June 4, 1989, in what critics and activists call a “massacre,” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ordered tanks and soldiers to fire at pro-democracy protesters.
Humanitarian China is currently led by human rights activist Zhou Fengsuo, who was a student during the protests in 1989.
The organization said it is “outraged” Zoom shut its account and that “it seems possible Zoom acted on pressure from the CCP.”
Humanitarian China also mentioned that former Tiananmen Square protester Dong Shengkun, previously imprisoned by the Chinese government for 17 years, was detained for five days to prevent him from attending the conference live.
Zoom has since reactivated the account and released a statement explaining the shutdown.
“When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws,” the company said in an emailed statement.
“We aim to limit the actions we take to those necessary to comply with local laws and continuously review and improve our process on these matters.”