News / Asia

Tens of Thousands in Hong Kong Mark Tiananmen Anniversary

People hold candles under heavy rain as tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil to mark the 24th anniversary of the June 4 Chinese military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing, at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2013.
People hold candles under heavy rain as tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil to mark the 24th anniversary of the June 4 Chinese military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing, at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2013.
Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents braved torrential rain to attend a candlelight vigil marking the 24th anniversary of Beijing's deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square.

Organizers of Tuesday's annual vigil in Hong Kong's Victoria Park claimed a turnout of 150,000 people, while police gave a smaller estimate of 54,000.  

Some of those who gathered in the park left when the rains started, but many stayed, huddling under umbrellas and chanting slogans calling on China's Communist leaders to vindicate the 1989 protest movement in Beijing's main square.

Chinese troops backed by tanks crushed the student-led demonstration on June 4 of that year, killing hundreds and possibly thousands of people. Beijing considers the protest to be a "counter-revolutionary rebellion" and blocks annual attempts by pro-democracy activists to commemorate the killings.

  • Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil under heavy rain at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2013 to mark the 24th anniversary of the Chinese military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing.
  • Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2013.
  • Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2013.
  • Bodies lie among mangled bicycles near Beijing's Tiananmen Square in this June 4, 1989 file photo.
  • Student pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, 1989.
  • A man stands in front of a replica of the Goddess of Democracy at Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2013.
  • Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park, June 4, 2013


Exercising freedoms

Residents of the former British colony of Hong Kong have retained the right to protest since it returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.  

The chairwoman of Hong Kong's main opposition Democratic Party, Emily Lau, was at the latest vigil, organized by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.  Speaking to VOA by phone, she said many locals still have strong emotions about the Tiananmen crackdown.

"They really feel that China should move forward, should have an investigation to set this whole thing to rest," Lau said. "So, in a way, the Hong Kong people are very, very persistent.  Twenty-four years is a very long time, and these people keep turning up every year and they keep giving money to the Patriotic Alliance."

Abrupt end

The rainstorm forced organizers to end Tuesday's rally after 50 minutes, the first time it has been cut short. Lau was among those who ran for cover.

"We were all drenched," she said. "It was pouring down with rain.  It was like a river flowing.  Some people left.  I left early too because we got so completely soaked.  But there were lots and lots of people going in, and all the football pitches were filled up, and they had to move over to the grass land."

Speakers at the vigil also vowed to keep fighting against what they see as Beijing's attempt to slow Hong Kong's progress toward universal suffrage for the city's leader and legislature in the coming years.

Turnout estimates for last year's event ranged from 180,000 people, as claimed by organizers, to 85,000 as reported by police.

Tiananmen Square, BeijingTiananmen Square, Beijing
x
Tiananmen Square, Beijing
Tiananmen Square, Beijing
In Beijing, police were on guard for possible protests at Tiananmen Square and other prominent areas.

Many Chinese activists already had been detained, placed under house arrest or monitored closely in the lead-up to the sensitive anniversary.

Chinese government censors also tried to block any reference to the anniversary on social media sites.  China's popular Sina Weibo service even removed a candle icon to prevent subscribers from displaying it as part of a digital vigil.

Leaders scrutinized

Lau said such actions have tarnished the image of the new Chinese Communist rulers who took office last November in a once-in-a-decade leadership transition.

"The impression is that the new leadership is very, very tough and, in fact, things are getting from bad to worse," Lau said.  "So it is exceedingly disappointing, because some people thought that President Xi Jinping is going to be some kind of reformist.  But I guess all those dreams have been dashed.  Nevertheless, the people still want to soldier on, because they want to see a democratic China."

Earlier this year, Xi called for more "political courage" to deepen reform in China and said the ruling party must improve its policies to "benefit more people in a fairer way."

But he also said the process of "opening up" the state is a "long-term, arduous and onerous cause which needs efforts from generation to generation."

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
June 06, 2013 4:31 PM
HK residents are still free to protest but millions of Chinese in the mainland cannot protest or commemorate the Tiananmen Square Massacre. China censors reports about the protests and prevents Chinese people from publicly discussing 6/4/89. There can be no true progress until the CCP allows freedom of expression in China as well as Hong Kong.


by: Thuong from: San Jose
June 05, 2013 2:44 AM
Comminist is always Communist.

Never see democratic China when ever communist party is still in power.
Could have been more students to get killed if the protest were still.


by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
June 04, 2013 8:21 PM
These cats in Hong Kong walk the walk. How cool is that

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid