Over 100 people have attended an “alternative” bilingual candlelight vigil outside Tsim Sha Tsui’s Cultural Centre to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
The event was hosted by pro-democracy activists Michael Mo and Dennis Cheung. They demanded vindication for those who died in the massacre at the national, regional and international level.
Mo said the event was held for those who did not agree with the patriotic ideals of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, who organise the main, annual Victoria Park commemoration.
He said that many young people do not support the Alliance’s goal of building a democratic China, and the main vigil was becoming “gradually more and more detached from the youth.”
The participants observed a moment of silence, gave flowers and electronic candlelights to commemorate the dead.
“We don’t need to chant any slogans or sing any songs to remember those who died. As long as we are still standing here to express to the world that we remember, it’s already enough,” Mo said.
The massacre occurred on June 4, 1989, ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died as the People’s Liberation Army suppressed protesters in Beijing.
Autumn Chong, who teaches art, said she has been coming to alternative vigils for several years.
“I want to have a place that I can quietly commemorate the dead,” she said. “I don’t think chanting slogans is a big problem, but they have to be something we believe in.”
A highlight of the event was a speech by Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee, who fled to Taiwan fearing persecution after the Hong Kong government’s proposed extradition bill is passed. He was interviewed when in Taiwan and a clip was played at the vigil.
Lam said it was understandable that young people do not want to identify as Chinese, and they have the right to choose not to do so.
“The June 4 incident is a massacre. From a human rights perspective, we should commemorate this,” he said.
“Even if you do not identify as Chinese, we should still participate in commemorative events.”
The organisers also invited speakers who were facing different kinds of political pressure in Hong Kong.
They included Benson Wong, a scholar whose teaching contract was not extended by the Hong Kong Baptist University; Wu Rwei-ren, a deputy researcher at Academia Sinica who was previously denied entry to Hong Kong; and Owan Li, a student representative at the Council of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, who was punished by the school following a protest.
Eeling Chiu, secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights who organises the Tiananmen vigil in Taipei, also spoke at the event.
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