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Tens of Thousands Mark Tiananmen Anniversary in Hong Kong

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 most 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. The Chinese government considers the incident to be a "counter-revolutionary rebellion" and blocks annual attempts by pro-democracy activists to commemorate the killings.

The former British colony of Hong Kong has retained the freedom to protest since returning to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. Participants in the latest vigil pledged to "never forget" those killed at Tiananmen. Speakers 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.



The rainstorm forced organizers to end the rally after 50 minutes, the first time it has been cut short.

In Beijing, Chinese police were on guard for possible protests in 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 site even removed a candle icon used by many subscribers as part of a digital vigil.

In an effort to get around the restrictions, Chinese web users instead posted pictures of candles. Others encouraged people to wear black as a symbol of mourning for those killed at Tiananmen.

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