Thousands mark 30th Tiananmen anniversary in HK
Hong Kong, June 4 (IANS): Tens of thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong on Tuesday to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Hundreds of people were killed on June 4, 1989, as People’s Liberation Army cracked down in and around Tiananmen Square on pro-democracy protesters who for weeks had gathered there to call for greater democracy as well as political and social reforms.
Tens of thousands of people, holding candles and raising slogans, gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to mark the anniversary of the crackdown, the BBC reported. Protesters also included some from the Chinese mainland.
Hong Kong and Macau are the only places in China where people can commemorate the activists killed in 1989. Everywhere else in China, the authorities banned even oblique references to the crackdown. Hundreds of security personnel and policemen monitored the square in Beijing.
“It’s very important that Hong Kong people continue to remember the June 4 tragedy,” said Richard Tsoi, Vice-Chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. “And don’t let the Chinese authority try to erase the memory for the whole nation,” Tsoi said.
In Taipei, a massive inflatable version of the iconic “Tank Man”, who defied the military as they entered Tiananmen Square, had been on display for several weeks.
On Monday, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council called on Beijing to “face up to historical mistakes and apologise as soon as possible for the crackdown”.
Activists were scheduled to hold a rally in Washington on Tuesday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and representatives of dozens of human rights groups, including Amnesty International, are expected to attend.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday the massacre still stirred the conscience “of freedom-loving people around the world”. “We salute the heroes of the Chinese people who bravely stood up 30 years ago in Tiananmen Square to demand their rights,” he said, urging the Chinese government to make a “full, public accounting” of the incident.
China never said how many people died in the crackdown, but hundreds were believed to have been killed. The events of June 4 have been wiped from the history books in China and any discussion of the crackdown is strictly censored and controlled.
On Monday, Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times said the massacre had been a “vaccination” against future “political turmoil” in the country.
China has always defended the crackdown. Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday, Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe described the Tiananmen protests as “political turmoil that the central government needed to quell”.