The memorial at Victoria Park, Hong Kong, is the only public candlelight vigil for the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre on Chinese soil.
The Tiananmen Square 25th Anniversary Memorial Vigil is held every year on June 4, in Hong Kong, and draws huge crowds to remember the dead. There are more than 180,000 people there, according to Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (Commonly known as the Alliance).
“Let’s show our sea of lights to [President] Xi Jinping! fight till the end!” the chairman said to rally the crowd.
The rally marked the 25th anniversary of the brutal government crackdown in Tiananmen Square, the event epitomized by the iconic photo of “Tank Man.” Since then, authorities have silenced the pro-democracy movement in most of mainland China, effectively outlawing any public event related to the Tiananmen incident, but still in Hong Kong pro-democracy groups continue their work.
This year the Alliance, which hosted the event, expected the largest gathering to date. Human rights activist and lawyer Teng Biao spoke at the event:
Hong Kong, the former British colony that was returned to Mainland China in 1997, has long been a rallying point for human rights, pro-democracy advocates and Tiananmen remembrance because of the local government’s free-speech policies.
After the Tiananmen Square massacre, many in Hong Kong took to the streets to protest and show solidarity with the student protesters. Despite maintaining many of the same civil rights from Hong Kong’s past, many still fear the encroachment of Chinese-style authoritarian rule.
Fights with pro-Beijing protesters occurred in the early afternoon before the Tiananmen vigil. One was arrested.
“It has been 25 years. Do Hong Kong people still have the same boldness?” asked Alex Chow Yong-kang, Federation of Students secretary general.
The vigil stayed non-violent, instead featuring moments of silence, videos of the Tiananmen mothers and singing.
City authorities may be forced to ban the Tiananmen vigil in the future or risk punishment from Beijing.
The event’s participants left Victoria park singing a Cantonese song set to Do You Hear The People Sing from the musical Les Miserables. Organizers applauded the Tiananmen Square 25th Anniversary Memorial as a success.
Organizers and speakers urged participants to visit the permanent museum dedicated to the massacre.
(Photo Source: Business Insider)