Tens of Thousands Commemorate June 4th in Hong Kong

While public commemorations of the military crackdown on June 4, 1989 were strictly banned inside China, an estimated 150,000 people gathered for a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong, despite heavy rains. From Reuters:

In Hong Kong, members of the crowd wore black and held candles under umbrellas. Protesters demanded Beijing overturn its denunciation of the pro-democracy movement as a “counter-revolutionary event”.

“Vindicate June 4th!” many shouted. “Never give up!”

Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, is the only place on Chinese soil where large, open commemorations of the Tiananmen massacre take place. The vigil is held up as a symbol of Hong Kong’s relative freedoms and civil liberties compared with mainland China.

“I feel very sad. It’s been 24 years and nothing has changed. The changes that the students of 1989 demanded have not come yet. Instead, things are getting worse and worse. You can see the officials are still very corrupt,” said Doris Poon, a clerk in her late 40s. [Source]

The New York Times interviewed protesters about their reasons for attending:

The protesters pressed a variety of agendas. A 17-year-old student named Zheng from Guangdong Province was among several holding a flag of the Republic of China, whose leaders fled to Taiwan as the Communists took over the mainland in 1949. Wan Yun, 47, a Hong Kong resident formerly from the Chinese province of Hubei, laid out documents about a land dispute that she said had brought her a year in a labor camp.

After the rally was well under way, an intense, wind-whipped rainstorm descended on the park, sending protesters scurrying for cover through flooded streets. But the rain abated a half-hour later, and the drenched throngs returned. [Source]

The head of the Hong Kong government traditionally does not publicly acknowledge the anniversary, and this year, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying spent June 4 in Shanghai. The South China Morning Post reports that some people have questioned his motives for leaving the territory on this particular day:

Leung replied that he planned to address the opening of the Urban Land Institute’s Asia-Pacific summit. The chief executive said he had promised to attend the summit as early as last year. Leung also plans to meet Shanghai’s Communist Party secretary Han Zheng and return home on Wednesday.

Before attending an Executive Council meeting on Tuesday morning, Leung was again questioned about the Tiananmen Square crackdown. A reporter asked whether telling the central government that Hong Kong people want the Beijing students who participated in the 1989 demonstrations to be acknowledged.

Leung again replied that he was going to Shanghai to attend two events. He did not discuss the June 4 anniversary, but instead said his government’s housing policy was progressing well. [Strong]

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