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.

  • Que nails first title in 3 years

    The three-time Asian Tour champion, who bounced back from a mediocre start of 72 and 71 with a fiery 66 Friday to tie Tabuena at helm, pooled a 72-hole total of seven-under 281 to nail the elusive win on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour worth P650,000. Hounded by poor putting, Tabuena went birdie-less for the first time in a long while but still stayed in the title hunt with a slew of pars at the back until he bogeyed the 17th and fell by two. …

  • Church: Donate to ‘Alay Kapwa’

    An official of the Church’s social action arm has asked the faithful to be generous when making a donation to "Alay Kapwa" today, Palm Sunday, which is also designated as Alay Kapwa Sunday.   Fr. Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-NASSA), said the faithful should generously give to Alay Kapwa as the amount collected will be used as emergency funds for crisis and calamities both from natural and …

  • ‘PNP’s systematic anti-crime drive to be sustained

    Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas II vowed to sustain the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) deliberate, programmatic and determined approach in fighting criminality.  “The President and Filipino people can be assured that the PNP will not slow down in its mission of fighting criminality, not only in Metro Manila but nationwide," said Roxas, who bared that there has been a significant drop in criminal activities within Metro Manila, especially …

  • Visayas grid to benefit from new Luzon power plants

    Owing to the existing transmission interconnection, Visayas grid is seen benefitting from the projected ‘oversupply’ that may saturate Luzon in the next three years. The Department of Energy and players from the power industry have noted the scant flow of capital for new power projects in Visayas, but they underscored that the transmission link-up would enable the sharing of energy between the two grids. First Gen executive vice president Ernesto B. Pantangco, who is also vice president of …

  • Arroyo’s co-accused permitted to undergo hospital procedure

    A co-accused of former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a plunder case has been allowed by the Sandiganbayan First Division to undergo a medical procedure tomorrow. The graft court permitted former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) board member Benigno Aguas, who was also its former budget and accounts manager, to undergo a cardiopulmonary/endocrine clearance procedure at the St. Luke's Medical Center in Quezon City this morning. Aguas, who is …

  • Petron expands petroleum retail operations

    Following the completion of its re-branding on acquired assets, leading Philippine oil firm Petron Corporation is now setting its goal on expanding its retail network in Malaysian petroleum market. The company has emphasized “20 more sites are in various stages of construction and commissioning.” On the downstream petroleum industry, it is the first time that a Filipino firm had brought its brand to an offshore market. It is technically some sort of ‘symbiosis’ when it comes to investments …

  • PAGASA: Storm may enter PH by Wednesday

    It may be a wet and windy Holy Week due to an erstwhile low pressure area which has intensified into a tropical storm with international name "Maysak,” according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.As of yesterday morning, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) estimated the cyclone at about 3,300 kilometers east of Mindanao and outside the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR).Should it maintain its present speed and track, it may enter the …

  • News In Brief

    The weighted average rate stands at P44.796 MINDANAO INFRASTRUCTURE SHARE INCREASED In a bid to boost the Mindanao economy, the Philippine government has increased the southern island’s share of the 2015 infrastructure budget to 30%, or around $4 billion, said Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson at the Philippines Investment Forum in Manila last week. “In 10 years’ time it’s still likely to be 30% because while the Philippines is committed to growing renewables, demand will …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options