Local Chinese and officials gathered on Saturday in Trafalgar Square to remember the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre, when Chinese soldiers opened fire on pro-democracy protestors in Beijing on 4th June 1989.
"There are tears that flow in China for the children that are gone," said the lyrics of a song played on a stereo. "Oh children, blood is on the square. Oh children, blood is on the square."
Nearby, onlookers gathered to view photos of students, workers and monks taken in the spring of 1989 when protestors occupied Tiananmen Square, demanding rule of law and democratic reforms. Other photos showed evidence of human rights abuses that continue today, such as the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners.
The event was organised by a coalition of pro-democracy groups in the United Kingdom called the Committee for Remembering June 4th. A key theme of those who spoke at the event was that the significance of the Tiananmen events did not end in 1989.
"The most important thing [for people to know about June 4th] is that to understand contemporary China, you have to understand what happened in 1989," said Chaohua Wang, who was a student leader from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1989 and read a poem at the event. "[We need to remember] for political reasons, as well as humanistic ones."
In particular, the lack of an official investigation, the unknown death toll and the continued disappearance of some of those who were on the square that night has left many in China seeking closure.
Ze Xia, director of Friends of Tiananmen Mothers and one of the event's organisers, read parts of a 28th May statement issued by the Tiananmen Mothers, a group consisting of those injured and relatives of those killed in 1989. The statement renewed calls for justice, appropriate compensation for victims and families, and demanded a full investigation that would hold officials involved accountable.
"The truth of the Chinese Communist Party's history of killing remains unknown to the whole world, including people in China," said Xia. "Please support all the people working for basic human rights in China today."
Joining the activists' commemoration were several local politicians, who made a point of relating the 1989 events in China to the people of London.
"It is very appropriate that we mark this day in London's greatest square," said John Grogan, a Labour MP for Selby. "There is a link between the two cities because of the Olympics, so we have a special responsibility in London to encourage freedom and democracy in China."
"The events of that day remind us all of the dangers of tyranny and dictatorship and help us to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in the United Kingdom," said Brian Coleman, Chairman of the London Assembly in a statement read on his behalf.
He also mentioned a statement made by London Mayor Ken Livingstone during a recent visit to China in which the mayor compared the Tiananmen Square Massacre to the 1990 Poll Tax riots in Trafalgar Square.
Calling the statement "disgraceful," Coleman said, "Livingstone is not only historically and factually wrong to compare these two events, he is also morally wrong to compare a massacre against those who support freedom with a protest about a government policy."
Chaohua Wang who had spent weeks on Tiananmen Square in 1989 and later witnessed the 1992 race riots in Los Angleles made a similar point.
"There was no looting [in Beijing]; in LA, there was looting everywhere," she said.
"You need to recognise the idealism [of the 1989 protests], the desire of millions of Beijing people and students to demand political participation."