June 4 turnout hits 10-year high

Top News | Phoenix Un 5 Jun 2019

Over 180,000 people turned out for the annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park last night to mark 30 years since Beijing's bloody Tiananmen crackdown.

The turnout, the highest since 2009, compared with last year's 115,000, according to organizer Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.

According to the police, 37,000 attended against last year's 17,000.

Alliance chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said the vigil will continue even if the controversial fugitive law amendment is passed. That was a reference to concerns that what are deemed threats to national security could lead to extradition.

But mainland activists may no longer dare to join the event as they have done, Ho said

In spite of a daylong drizzle people - locals and foreigners - began to gather from 4pm.

A German named Maier, who took an 11-hour flight to join the vigil, said he found Beijing untrustworthy since the June 4 crackdown. "People were massacred 30 years ago," he said. "But nothing has changed - still no democracy.

On his third visit for the vigil, Maier is also concerned about the fugitive law amendment, saying: "You can't extradite people to the mainland where they can't have fair trials." Mike Davis, an American who arrived three years ago after retiring and at the vigil for the first time, is also worried about the law change. "Extradition is good," he said, "but not in this case. China will certainly abuse it."

Mrs Wong, coming to the vigil with her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, said she would like her children to learn more about Chinese history. "I want them to think for themselves," she said. "Of course I'm afraid that after the fugitive law amendment has passed there won't be such a vigil."

Joseph Lau Yan-hon, 23, said he was there as he does not want the June 4 crackdown to be forgotten. "This vigil is very symbolic."

When the event started at 8pm participants filled all six football pitches at Victoria Park.

Besides familiar slogans such as "Build a democratic China" and "End one-party dictatorship," the fugitive law amendment was a main issue of concern.

The alliance called on people to join a June 9 protest against the amendment with the message: "No extradition to China, and withdraw the evil bill."

Alliance leaders and some younger people laid wreaths at the Monument for Heroes of Democracy, then held torches on stage to symbolize the passing of responsibility to a younger generation to struggle for democracy.

Alliance vice chairwoman Chow Hang-tung, delivered an eulogy, saying: "The love and peace you showed for the past 30 years has empowered subsequent movements."

The alliance also showed a video of Zhang Xianling, one of the founders of Tiananmen Mothers, who said: "The support of Hong Kong citizens has warmed our hearts."

Singer Anthony Wong Yiu-ming, who had taken part in the vigils in the past, performed Memory is Guilty onstage in a first because, he said, "I witness a monster smashing Hong Kong."

Also on the stage was Occupy Movement co-founder Chu Yiu-ming, who led Operation Yellow Bird to get hundreds of dissidents out of China after 1989. He said: "When there are still dissidents in prison there is no freedom."

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