(TibetanReview.net, Jun07, 2018) – With rousing chants of “End to the one-party dictatorship!” and “Building a democratic China!” some 115,000 people took part in this year’s annual candlelight vigil in Hong Kong to commemorate the lives lost in the crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing on Jun 4, 1989. This figure, stated by the organizers, was 5,000 more than last year. The local police have, however, put the total figure at 17,000, a slight decline from the official figure of 18,000 last year.
Anyhow, the South China Morning Post has explained how this year’s attendance defied expectations that numbers would continue to decrease, reported chinadigitaltimes.net Jun 5.
Albert Ho Chun-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organises the vigil yearly, was cited as saying many young people turned up despite the student union boycott.
Eight Hong Kong university student unions chose not to attend the main vigil this year, saying it was “not Hongkongers’ responsibility to seek justice for the victims” on the mainland. This was seen as indicating a growing divide between young activists who wish to pay tribute to the massacre victims and those who consider it to be increasingly irrelevant as far as Hong Hong is concerned.
But one of the most prominent pro-democracy activists, Joshua Wong, has expressed continued support for the event. He was quoted as saying: “We need to point out how Beijing is violating a basic human right, so whether we recognise ourselves as Chinese or not, the Tiananmen Square Massacre is still the most important event to show how Beijing suppresses democracy.”
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she could not guarantee that people will not be prosecuted for calling for an end to one-party rule. This was because in Mar 2018, the Chinese constitution was amended to include a line stating “the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Besides, a number of Chinese officials, including former director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Wang Guangya, have said that those who call for an end to Communist rule cannot run for office.
The report said organizers of this year’s event had seized on the death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, prominently displaying a bust of him in the city’s Times Square and bringing it to the Jun 4 night’s vigil.
The report noted that the vigil in Hong Kong was a stark departure from the situation in China, where protests are banned and mentions of the Tiananmen crackdown, in which hundreds if not thousands of protesters died, are scrubbed from social media.