The vigil was organized by the Hong Kong Alliance In Support of Patriotic Movements in China, a pro-democracy group that was established in 1989 in support of the democracy movement in mainland China. The group organizes a rally and vigil every year to call for redress of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, and to hold accountable those responsible for the violent crackdown.
Despite the torrential rain that fell on Tuesday night, the Hong Kong Alliance said close to 150,000 people attended the rally, many of whom traveled from the mainland to participate. The city police put the number at about 54,000, according to Bloomberg. Within China, information about the regime’s suppression of the student protests is heavily censored. Ahead of this year’s anniversary of the crackdown, China’s microblogging service Sina Weibo removed the candle emoticon and censored posts with numerical combinations that allude to June 4, 1989.
A businessman from Guangzhou, who wished to only identify himself by his surname Chen, revealed that because he attended several public protests in China last year, local authorities pressured his employer to fire him. “There is no way to express or voice my feelings in the mainland. I came to Hong Kong, where Hong Kong compatriots have been doing this for me for the last twenty-some years. I am really moved. I am here to express gratitude, to let out my emotions.”
Some, like Chen, participated in the rally for the first time, while others like 77 year-old Mr. Guo, a Hong Kong resident, has attended the rally every year for the past 24 years.
Past student protesters in the 1989 democracy movement were also present at the rally. Song Shiyu, aged 58, was a teacher at the Chongqing City Party School in 1989. He was prisoned for two years due to his participation in local student protests. Mr. Hu, a mainland tourist who participated in the student movement with his classmates in 1989, said he hopes that mainland and Hong Kong citizens can work to overthrow China’s authoritarian regime and realize a democratic and free China.
While holding up his candlelight, he said, “I think the candlelight is not only to remember the victims of June 4, but I can see the light of our democracy through this candle.”
“The candlelight vigil and our efforts have shown to the Beijing regime that we are determined to call for vindication of June 4, an end to one-party dictatorship, and for the realization of a democratic China,” said Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance.
Written in English by Annie Wu.
Read the original Chinese article.