A democracy march held on Sunday afternoon to commemorate the victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989 drew the least number of participants since 2008 with only a few students joining the rally, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
According to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, about 1,000 people joined the march, the second lowest turnout since the annual event was launched more than 20 years ago. It is held on the Sunday right before June 4.
Police estimated the crowd at only 450 at its peak.
According to data from the alliance over the past 10 years, the highest turnout was recorded in 2009, the 20th anniversary of the bloody crackdown, when 8,000 attended, and the lowest was 990 in 2008.
Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, vice chairman of the alliance, was quoted as saying he was satisfied with the turnout which he said always had its ups and downs over the years.
It would be an inspiration for the alliance if many people show up at the event, but regardless of the turnout, the group would continue to work hard, Tsoi said.
Claiming that about 100,000 people are expected to attend the candlelight vigil at Victoria Park on June 4, Tsoi urged Hong Kong people to get together and send a message to Beijing that they have never forgotten the Tiananmen Square crackdown before President Xi Jinping visits the city from June 29 to July 1.
In a statement, the alliance said Beijing continues to crack down on human rights activists in unprecedented ways as the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China draws near and Hong Kong has seen its politics worsen during the past five years under the current administration headed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
But such developments should not diminish the Hong Kong people’s determination to fight for democracy, the alliance said.
Still, student groups that have been among the most vocal partners of the alliance seemed to continue distancing themselves from its memorial activities.
As the march proceeded from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to China’s Liaison Office in Western District on Sunday afternoon, with participants holding banners and chanting slogans, the only students in crowd appeared to be those from the Department of Social Work of Hong Kong Baptist University.
Chung Kim-wah, an assistant professor at the Department of Applied Social Sciences of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said people are more enthusiastic to attend the June 4 vigil than to join the the Sunday march as the former is more symbolic.
He also said young people are not very much interested in joining the march because their sense of identity with China is low.
Chung called on the alliance to review its practices, otherwise it would continue to face difficulties in attracting participants.
Meanwhile, some of the participants clashed with police officers who were trying to maintain order in the march.
Leung Kam-wai, a member of the alliance’s standing committee and the Kwai Tsing District Council, was taken to the police station but later released.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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