Hong Kong vigil as China rounds up Tiananmen activists

Hong Kong held a candlelight vigil Monday to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in stark contrast to mainland China where activists said hundreds of people were detained.

Hong Kong's Victoria Park glowed with candlelight in what has become an annual act of remembrance for the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people killed in the June 3-4, 1989 onslaught against pro-democracy activists in Beijing.

"The trend of democracy cannot be blocked," Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, told the crowd in a speech.

"Never forget June 4. Democracy for China now! Long live democracy!" he said, estimating that 180,000 people attended the event. Others said there were no more than 60,000.

Tiananmen veteran Fang Zheng, whose legs were crushed by a tank as the PLA rolled into the square said: "You have all not forgotten what happened 23 years ago. Thank you all for 23 years of support."

The former British colony is the only place in China where the Tiananmen Square crackdown is openly remembered, and the number of people attending the annual vigil has swelled in recent years.

People's Liberation Army soldiers stormed into central Beijing on the night of June 3, 1989, firing upon unarmed demonstrators and citizens as they ended six weeks of democracy protests on Tiananmen Square and around the vast country.

The anniversary of the brutal army action in the heart of Beijing is always hugely sensitive, but particularly so this year ahead of a once-in-a-decade handover of power marred by fierce in-fighting in the ruling Communist Party.

China still considers the Tiananmen demonstrations a "counter-revolutionary rebellion" and has refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing or consider compensation for those killed.

The government attempts to block any public discussion or remembrance of the events by hiding away key dissidents in the run-up to June 4, taking them into custody or placing them under house arrest.

Searches on China's popular social media sites for June 4, the number 23, the words "candle" and "Victoria" were blocked.

After the Shanghai stock market opened at 2346.98 points -- which some pointed out could mean the 23rd anniversary, June 4, 1989 -- censors responded by blocking searches for "Shanghai Composite Index" on the Sina microblog.

The United States called for all those still jailed over the demonstrations to be freed, but Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin hit back at what Beijing called "groundless accusations".

France joined the United States in calling for China to release political prisoners still jailed 23 years after the crackdown.

Despite the heightened security, public events have been held around the nation to commemorate the "Tiananmen massacre" and demand democratic reforms.

More than 80 rights campaigners met in a Beijing square on Saturday, carrying banners and shouting slogans calling for a reassessment of the 1989 protests.

"So many people were killed on June 4, we think the government should fully account for what happened," said Wang Yongfeng, a Shanghai activist who attended the protest.

A similar protest occurred in a park in southeast China's Guiyang city last week, with police subsequently taking into custody at least four of the organisers, the Chinese Human Rights Defenders group said.

In Beijing, veteran dissident Hu Jia said authorities had stepped up security around him and other political activists and social critics.

Rights activists and lawyers said police had contacted them and warned against participating in activities marking the crackdown.

The only open commemoration of the crackdown allowed on Chinese soil was in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous southern territory that enjoys freedoms not allowed in the mainland.

Student Belle Shu Ting, 19, said she knew almost nothing about the Tiananmen crackdown until she came to study in Hong Kong from the neighbouring Chinese province of Guangdong.

"I learned about it in class and I found it be quite moving. I hope that this candlelight vigil will carry on until the June 4 event is vindicated," she told AFP.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • U.S. flies most advanced surveillance plane from Philippines

    By Manuel Mogato MANILA (Reuters) - The United States has begun flying its most advanced surveillance aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon, out of the Philippines for patrols over the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy said on Thursday, acknowledging the flights for the first time. The United States, the Philippines' oldest and closest ally, has promised to share "real time" information on what is happening in Philippine waters as China steps up its activities in the South China Sea. China claims most of …

  • Purisima denies endorsing successor
    Purisima denies endorsing successor

    Resigned Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima denied reports that he has been urging President Aquino to appoint his protegé as the new police chief. “Contrary to news reports, PDG Alan La Madrid Purisima is not in any position to recommend and has not in fact recommended anyone to the President for appointment as next chief of the PNP,” his lawyer Kristoffer James Purisima said yesterday. Sources said that Purisima may have resigned but he reportedly remains …

  • IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate
    IS executioner 'Jihadi John' named as London graduate

    "Jihadi John", the masked Islamic State group militant believed responsible for beheading of at least five Western hostages, has been named as Kuwaiti-born computing graduate Mohammed Emwazi from London. "Jihadi John", nicknamed after Beatle John Lennon due to his British accent, is believed to be responsible for the murders of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig. …

  • Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2
    Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2

    How well does this P3,999 offering from an underdog in the local mobile industry stack up against the competition? Let's find out. …

  • China bans ivory imports for 1 year to protect elephants
    China bans ivory imports for 1 year to protect elephants

    BEIJING (AP) — China imposed a one-year ban on ivory imports that took immediate effect Thursday amid criticism that its citizens' huge appetite for ivory has fueled poaching that threatens the existence of African elephants. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options