A former student activist has questioned the decision of some youth groups in the city to stay away from the candlelight vigil to be held on June 4 in memory of the victims of Beijing’s 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Andrew To Kwan-hang, who had served as secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) in 1989, said it is absurd that people are seeking to boycott the June 4 event on the ground that matters related to China are of no concern to Hongkongers.
Participation in the event should not be linked with the question of national identity, he said, arguing that broader principles are at stake.
The comments came after some student associations in Hong Kong said they will no longer take part in the annual June 4 event that is organized by the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.
To said he is disappointed that HKFS has decided to quit the Alliance.
“Who else will care about June 4 if Hong Kong people don’t care?” he said, stressing that the students are sending a wrong message by boycotting the event.
If young people remain indifferent about what goes on in the mainland, it could encourage more brazen acts by Communist authorities, To warned.
While student leaders are justified in saying that Hong Kong people should focus on local issues, it doesn’t mean that we should ignore the events in China, he said.
Spending just one day in a year to remember the June 4, 1989 victims should not be regarded as giving higher priority to Chinese democracy compared to Hong Kong issues, To added.
In other comments, the former student leader admitted that relations between the HKFS and the pan-democratic camp may not be as close now as they had been in the past.
HKFS students waged a lot of battles before they chose to step back and let other groups take the lead in organizing activities in Hong Kong to support a democracy campaign in China.
When HKFS stepped back, the goal was to bring together as many people as possible, To said.
To said he understands that many young people were disappointed that the 2014 Umbrella Movement failed to yield any result.
While that may have prompted some student groups to rethink their strategies, it still doesn’t warrant a boycott of the June 4 vigil, he said.
Translation by Chloe Chow
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