In Hong Kong, a crowd of 70,000 proves the `hearts of its people have
ORE than 70,000 people streamed into Victoria Park last night for a
mammoth candlelight vigil in remembrance of those who died in the June
4, 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square.
It was the largest turnout since 1992 when 80,000 marked the event.
The rally in Hong Kong contrasted with the situation on the mainland,
where public displays of grief were almost non-existent, amid tight
security for the sensitive tenth anniversary.
Tiananmen Square itself was empty except for workmen repairing
pavements as police kept a tight watch.
In Macau, which reverts to Chinese rule from Portuguese administration
in December, a crowd of about 300 people turned out, with one
protester saying they would continue marking the event after the
handover even if it was forbidden by Beijing.
In Hong Kong, the police refused to give an official figure for the
attendance last night saying it was only for "operational use".
Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of
China chairman Szeto Wah said the high turnout showed that the
"hearts of Hong Kong people have not died".
"We should appreciate that many people still come even in times of
economic hardship. I think Hong Kong people should be proud of that,"
The vigil started at 8 pm with a simple dance and song performance
recalling the history of the events in both Beijing and Hong Kong 10
It was followed by a video show screening episodes of the crackdown
and the student demonstration in Tiananmen Square.
Many burst into tears when they saw scenes of the shooting and people
blocking the tanks with their bodies. The alliance core members also
sent wreaths to a statue memorialising the martyrs and a teenage boy
returned from the statue to the stage with a torch to symbolise the
fight for a democratic China.
After a one-minute silence to mourn the dead, the alliance
successfully connected telephone lines to dissident Wang Dan in Boston
and his mother Wang Lingyun in Beijing.
Mrs Wang said the telephone service at her home had been cut off and
it was difficult to get connected.
She urged the younger generation in Hong Kong to equip themselves well
and cultivate a sense of responsibility to society and a sense of
mission for history.
"The greatest expectation of the people is that they could speak what
they want to speak," she said.
She also encouraged local parents to support and respect their
children who were involved in a social movement, if they believed it
was for justice.
Wang Dan said the democracy movement in 1989 was a landmark for
contemporary Chinese society and those who had died should not be
forgotten. "We should never forget that the young people had
sacrificed their lives and blood to pave the way for the future of
China," he said. However, attempts failed to secure a phone hook-up
in Beijing with retired professor Ding Zilin, whose son was killed in
the crackdown. Ms Ding has filed a writ with the Beijing court to seek
The Victoria Park vigil ended with a declaration by the alliance to
continue its fight for democracy.
As the crowd dispersed the chanting of slogans such as "Continue
fighting" and "End the one-party rule", interspersed with the
singing of patriotic songs, rent the night air.
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