Young And Old Remember Tiananmen In Record Numbers At Hong Kong Vigil
Hong Kong is a bustling place – particularly the financial hub’s Victoria Park in Causeway Bay but Tuesday night tens of thousands of people gathered in silence, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.
The hum of cicadas was the only sound as a sea of candlelight filled the darkness.
According to organiser Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China this year’s turnout was more than 180,000 people. Local police put the figure at 37,000.
As a video tribute played – the sound of gunfire echoed through the park - on stage two banners that declared “Justice will prevail” and “Vindicate June 4” hung as the crowd chanted “People will not forget” and “No rendition to China”.
To this day it's unclear just how many people died during the crackdown – most were students in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square – estimates put the figure in the hundred’s others suggest thousands of people died.
Among the crowds at the vigil was Gabi Xu. She grew up in mainland China and for decades had no idea the Tiananmen massacre occurred.
“When I was in mainland people can’t talk about it, can’t discuss it. I learned this protest from a documentary and my teachers in Hong Kong.” She said.
At 23 this was her first vigil, she told 10 daily she wanted to come because she knows it a special date for many people in China.
“I watched it with my friend I was amazed that I never knew it, such a huge thing but I never knew it before watching that documentary.”
The June 4 event is heavily censored in mainland China but in a rare acknowledgment, a Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times defended the government’s handling of the pro-democracy protests of 1989.
"As a vaccination for the Chinese society, the Tiananmen incident will greatly increase China's immunity against any major political turmoil in the future," wrote the nationalist tabloid, which is affiliated with the Communist Party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily.
It followed comments from China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe, earlier this week, defending the massacre.
“There was a conclusion to that incident. That was a political turmoil that the central government needed to quell, the government was decisive in stopping the turbulence, that was the correct policy."
Xu says she wanted to share in the feeling of the vigil but says; “I still think I’m not very clear about the whole thing. My mum told me it’s a horrible thing when I asked her, she advised me not to participate in such activity because it may bring some danger, it may put me in a dangerous position.”
The Communist regime might have crushed the democratic hopes of a generation 30 years ago, but the flickering flame of hope isn’t extinguished yet.
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