The annual candlelight vigil on June 4, held each year in Hong Kong, to commemorate the Tiananmen Crackdown, Incident or Massacre of 1989, continued to draw mass participation in its usual Victoria Park site, Hong Kong Island.
The slogan for this year’s protest – “Love the country, love the people. That’s the Hong Kong spirit. Reverse the June 4 verdict. We will never give up”, by Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement of China – sounded too skewed toward a sop to Beijing and caused a splinter group to form elsewhere comprising those not so worried about upsetting the Northern government by showing their patriotism.
Thousands gathered in the evening but heavy rain dampened everything but the spirits and it was not all that agreed when the organisers called it off an hour early – though the park lighting had failed by then.
The organisers were calling on Chinese President Xi Jinping to improve human rights and advance democracy.
Many protesters were dressed in traditional mourning colours as they remembered the people killed by troops 24 years ago after students called for democracy and an end to corruption and defied orders to leave Tiananmen Square.
Vigil organizers estimated the crowed at 150,000 people, according to the South China Morning Post and as usual the police had a far different figure – 54,000.
China doesn’t allow events to commemorate the crackdown on the mainland and last night’s Hong Kong memorial is the first since China’s once-in-ten-years leadership transition that ended with Xi replacing Hu Jintao as president in March..
To recall, in Hong Kong, over 1 million people marched in protest after the crackdown 24 years ago and these vigils have occurred annually since. Estimates of the death toll during the days of the crackdown are guesstimated at from 300 and 2,600.
Turning to a Facebook comment, Rose Tang wrote: So how many people were killed during the Tiananmen Massacre? It is still a mystery. Chinese Red Cross put the death toll at 2,600 shortly after the massacre but quickly withdrew it due to government pressure. Several student organizations quoted similar figures. But other sources’ figures range from 200 to 10,000.
The slaughter started on the night of June 3 and continued for a few more days and spread to other cities, as people staged hunger strikes and street protests in several hundred cities across the country.
While the South China Morning Post Internet version did run a lead article, there was surprisingly little media coverage of the event that lasted, it all soon got drowned in lesser news items and surprisingly it was left to businessweek.com to give a lingering and more detailed story.
Rose Tang highlights one list of the killed compiled by the Tiananmen Mothers.
“a group formed by families and friends of the victims and led by Professor Ding Ziling and her husband Jiang Peikun, whose 17-year-old son Jiang Jielian was gunned down along the Avenue of Eternal Peace (Chang An Ave.) where most of the killings occurred.”
“So far the list only has 202 victims, most of whom were in their 20s. The youngest was 9. My 19-year-old friend Wang Qiong, a freshman of the Beijing Science and Technology, is not on the list. Also missing is a girl of possibly 12 years old. A weeping student I met near Qianmen after I escaped Tiananmen Square showed me a blood stained pair of small specs with bullet holes. He witnessed how the girl was gunned down by marching troops with automatic rifles.”
“This website with the English translation of the death list has a good archive on Tiananmen movement. It’s the official website of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement of China, which has been organizing the annual candle light vigil in Hong Kong for the last 24 years. http://www.alliance.org.hk/english/Tiananmen_files/victimlist.html”
“Another good website, run by Feng Congde, one of the student leaders, is www.64memo.com, which has thousands of photos, videos and audio files. It’s in Chinese.”
The photo by Casi Ng shows the continuing support of this annual vigil by the people of Hong Kong and not a few that come down from the mainland to take part.