A democracy march for China drew just half the number of participants in the previous two years, signaling waning fervor for keeping the flame alive in the mainland.
About 1,500 people took part in Sunday’s march, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.
Police estimated the crowd at 780.
The number was half that in 2014 and 2015 and was the smallest since 2009.
The participants, including a dozen students from Shue Yan University and Baptist University, marched from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to China’s Liaison Office in Western District, holding banners and chanting slogans.
The annual march is held ahead of the June 4 vigil that commemorates the victims of the bloody 1989 Tiananmen crackdown on democracy activists.
The alliance said Hong Kong people should not give up their search for the truth about June 4, adding the victims’ families have been waiting for justice.
It said several recent incidents, including the missing booksellers, show “one country, two systems” is in jeopardy and Hongkongers should remain watchful instead of “burying their heads in the sand”.
Richard Choi, vice chairman of the alliance, said attendance in the June 4 event would be a more accurate gauge of public support than Sunday’s march.
Meanwhile, student groups that have been among the most vocal partners of the alliance, are distancing themselves from its memorial activities, saying these have become a “mere formality”.
The University of Hong Kong student union said the commemorations should stop.
The Hong Kong Federation of Students will not take part in the vigil this year, although its members might attend as individuals.
It has not ruled out holding its own memorial activity.
But some students said the memorials are meaningful and should continue, adding it’s important to hold the activities simultaneously to make the commemoration more powerful.
Lee Cheuk-yan, secretary general of the alliance, said he welcomes debate on the future of the June 4 activities.
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