Tuesday, December 1, 2015   

Marching in anguish and anger

Colleen Lee

Monday, August 30, 2010

The marchers were silent but the message to the Philippines was loud and clear - truth and justice.

Up to 80,000 people according to the organizers - or 30,000 according to police - marched in angry silence yesterday to mourn the eight Hong Kong residents killed in the Manila hostage crisis and to call for a full investigation into the tragedy.

Young and old, most dressed in black or white with some carrying white chrysanthemums, roses or lilies, took their grief and outrage to the streets as Tropical Storm Lionrock loomed.

Holding banners reading "Deepest Condolences to the Families of the Victims" and "Thorough Investigation for the Truth," the sea of demonstrators observed three minutes of silence as they gathered in Victoria Park before marching to Chater Garden in Central.

"Lawmakers feel so shocked and are grieving," Legislative Council chairman Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said on the stage in the park.

"There were obvious blunders in the Philippine government's way of handing the rescue operation, which took the lives of innocent Hong Kong people.

"Lawmakers are strongly dissatisfied with it."

Tsang said legislators urged the Philippine government to make a public apology and to compensate the victims and their families.

On Chater Road in Central, Filipino unions and local groups including the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese held a daylong gathering to mourn the dead. Several hundred people - mainly Filipinos - joined a
candlelight vigil there last night to express their sympathy and solidarity as well as to call for justice for victims and survivors.

The march from Victoria Park was organized by legislators from across the political spectrum. Mourners tied yellow ribbons to railings in the garden, while lawmakers laid a wreath in front of a black stage.

Teng Lau, 86, who spent hours walking slowly with a crutch, said: "As a Hongkonger, I had to mourn for those killed and condemn the Philippine government for the way it handled the issue."

Tin Shui Wai resident Ip Tat-chiu, 74, said: "I have never taken to the streets before, but this incident really upset Hong Kong people. I hope our action will put pressure on the Philippine government to probe the incident thoroughly. The tragedy also made me cherish Hong Kong."

He believes local anger will not lead to anti-Philippine protests or a direct backlash against Filipino workers. "They are friendly overall. The problem lies with the Philippine government," he said.

Weeping Ho Yuk-ha, marching with her eight-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, said: "I want to seek justice for the dead. The rescue operation by the Philippine team was botched. It was unable to handle a crisis. I can't help crying every time I read the news about the tragedy. I have never been to the Philippines and will not go there."

Last night, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and Bishop John Tong Hon attended a mass at St Joseph's Catholic Church in Central to pray for the victims and their families. Tsang later said Hong Kong society has shown its rationality, love and sympathy after the Manila crisis.

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