Hong Kong’s annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the victims of Beijing’s 1989 Tiananmen crackdown saw greater crowd participation this year, compared to recent years.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, organizer of the annual event in Victoria Park, said the turnout for the vigil last night was 115,000 on the 29th anniversary of the June 4 incident.
That compares with about 110,000 people who took part in the activity last year, it said, adding that it is encouraged by the response and that it is confident that attendance next year — when people will mark the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre — will be far bigger.
With the increased turnout at Monday’s candlelight vigil, the organizer has managed to reverse a downward trend seen since 2015 in public participation, the Hong Kong Economic Journal noted.
In the event last night, six football pitches at Victoria Park were seen packed with people holding candles in their hands despite some rain before the vigil began.
The police, for their part, estimated the crowd at only 17,000 at its peak, less than what they claimed was the attendance in 2017.
Among the attendees in the latest gathering were several lawmakers from the pan-democratic camp, including Charles Mok Nai-kwong, Roy Kwong Chun-yu and Claudia Mo Man-ching.
Wu Chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, the party’s member Lam Cheuk-ting and Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong were not present but they joined in the fund-raising efforts on the streets.
In addition to mourning the dead democracy activists at Tiananmen Square 29 years ago and showing videos of interviews of victims’ families, the Alliance led the crowd to chant the “end one-party dictatorship” slogan.
The move was clearly aimed at demonstrating strong objection to the warning from some in the pro-Beijing and pro-establishment individuals that people who call for an end to one-party dictatorship may be disqualified from future Legislative Council elections as they would possibly be found in breach of the national constitution.
The Alliance reiterated that its stance that the one-party rule should be ended will not change, as it is a promise to the victims of the bloody crackdown despite more and more red lines that have been drawn by Beijing in recent years.
Calling the turnout inspiring, Alliance chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan told the media after the vigil that it shows that Hongkongers continue to insist on morality and justice.
Ho, a former Democratic Party lawmaker who is a lawyer by profession, called on college students to rejoin the annual event in the future.
He said he hopes the students will come to understand that Hong Kong should make the most of the freedom it enjoys to urge for improvement of human rights in the mainland.
Claiming that he will not give up sticking to the principle of “end one-party dictatorship” even though that means he can never run for any elections, Alliance secretary Lee Cheuk-yan said Hongkongers should be dedicated to fighting against authoritarian powers.
Lee hopes to see on-campus booths being set up in universities for June 4-related events.
After the vigil ended, the League of Social Democrats, the Political Reform Concern Group of Tertiary Education Institutes and the Labour Party led more than one hundred of the participants to march to Beijing’s liaison office in Western District, resulting in clashes with the police that called it an unapproved gathering.
In a statement read out outside the building, 29 representatives from the seven participating groups demanded immediate release of all human rights activists and end of one-party dictatorship in China.
The groups paid silent tribute to the late Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo before leaving the area peacefully.
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