In the glow of tens of thousands of candles, people stood solemnly in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to remember the victims of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
One of them was Wang Dengyao, a mainlander who attended the vigil, held every year in Hong Kong since 1990, for the first time.
It was a wish come true for Wang, a Tiananmen democracy activist, after many years of trying.
The event meant a lot to him, Wang told Apple Daily, as he praised its organizers for keeping a “democratic miracle” alive after all these years.
He said freedom is a precious thing Hong Kong people should cherish.
Wang urged them to “stay intact” and reject economic benefits at the cost of freedom.
A Shenzhen resident, surnamed Lu who has attended the commemoration since 2012, said it’s impossible to imagine people talking about the events on Tiananmen Square that fateful June morning except in Hong Kong.
He said China cares more about the renminbi than its own people, adding Hongkongers should look after their interests and not rely on Beijing.
A worker from Guangdong province, surnamed Zheng, said he never understood June 4 until 2010 when human rights activist Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize and brought attention to China’s suppression of dissent.
Last year, he cracked China’s internet firewall and began reading about the Tiananmen protest movement and its deadly aftermath.
It made him cry, he said.
Efforts to promote democracy in the mainland should not stop, he said, adding only a democratic China can give true democracy to Hong Kong.
Thursday’s attendance, estimated by organizers at 130,000, was down sharply from last year, with many pro-democracy groups choosing to separately hold their own commemorations.
Police put the number at 46,000.
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