Hong Kong Wants China To Be Held Accountable For 1989 Tiananmen Crackdown

Thousands of protesters marched through central Hong Kong on Sunday, demanding China answer for its crackdown on dissent.

A soldier stands in Tiananmen Square in front of Mao Zedong's portrait before the opening of the 13th National People's Congress on March 5, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Andrea Verdelli / Getty Images

Thousands of protesters marched through central Hong Kong on Sunday, demanding China answer for its crackdown on dissent.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday morning, demanding that China answer questions about its crackdown on dissenters during the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre three decades ago, reports Reuters.

In 1989, at the height of a popular national movement for democracy in China, the country used its military might to silence student protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The military used assault rifles and tanks to subdue protesters in an event which has long been etched in Asian history as the moment when state power brutally suppressed the democratic aspirations of the Chinese people. While official death counts remain shrouded in mystery with Chinese authorities refusing to take the blame for the massacre, historians contend that anywhere between hundreds to thousands of protesters were killed during the face-off three decades ago.

On the 30th anniversary of the gruesome incident, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday, demanding that China roll back the steps it has taken to ensure that future generations of Chinese people don’t get to fully know the scale of the massacre. Protesters allege that Chinese internet companies have used censure tactics and tools to block content related to the 1989 crackdown, thereby ensuring that little-to-no information about the past is available to youngsters in the world’s most populous nation.

Today, Chinese people are not allowed to discuss the incident in public forums, and commemorations for the dead are also outlawed. Hong Kong and Macau remain the only territories on Chinese soil where the event is commemorated each year, while the democratic island of Taiwan also holds public gatherings for the victims.

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On Sunday morning, scores of protesters marched to China’s main representative “liaison” office in Beijing, chanting slogans and holding signs including “the people will not forget.” Several protesters carried yellow umbrellas with them, referring to the 2014 pro-democracy “umbrella revolution” that took place in Hong Kong to demand that the critics of the Chinese regime not be sent to mainland China to face trial. The country has proposed an extradition law which would force critics of the regime to be sent to mainland China, but lawyers, business people, and diplomats in Hong Kong are committed to ensuring that the law is not enforced.

Wu Chi-wai, who heads the city’s main opposition Democratic Party, said that China has a history of suppressing popular dissent.

“The Hong Kong people have not forgotten the event of 30 years ago. The (Chinese) Communist Party tries to erase those memories. But the Hong Kong people have kept it up and are looking for the day when the dictatorship on the mainland will end,” Chi-wai said.