A thousand or more people marched through Hong Kong's streets Sunday to honor victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing 18 years ago.

Demonstrators braved pouring rain to take part in the commemorative march, an annual event in the southern Chinese territory since the Tiananmen incident on June 4, 1989.

This year, marchers took to the streets more than a week early, to protest recent comments by a pro-Beijing lawmaker, who disputes witnesses' accounts of the massacre and calls the memorial services unpatriotic.

In the 1989 crackdown, Chinese troops used gunfire and armored vehicles to crush protests in and around Tiananmen Square, where thousands of people had been camped out for weeks, demanding more democratic freedoms. The Chinese army's action killed hundreds of civilians - or perhaps many more, since no complete record of what took place has ever been released.

Communist authorities in Beijing say the protests were a counter-revolutionary rebellion, and the military action was necessary and justified. They have refused to re-examine what happened at Tiananmen Square in 1989, or punish any officials responsible for the bloodshed.

In Hong Kong - still a British-ruled territory in 1989 - more than a million people joined a march and rally to denounce the Tiananmen massacre, and memorial observances are held every year. Such public commemorations are forbidden on the Chinese mainland.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.