06/05/2014, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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A crowd of 180,000 gathers to mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre and call for democracy

by Paul Wang
During the ceremony, video messages from exiled student leaders were broadcast before a crowd that included many mainlanders. Teng Biao, a civil rights lawyer lecturing in Hong Kong, took part in the event despite pressures at home. Beijing-friendly lawmakers walk out when their pro-democracy colleagues hold a minute of silence.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of people of all ages and from all walks of life attended last night's vigil to honour the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre 25 years ago, and to demand democracy for China and Hong Kong. Many of the participants were from the mainland, unable to mark the event at home.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China has organised the memorial vigil for the past 24 years. This year, it said that more than 180,000 people attended the Victoria Park event. Police estimated turnout at 99,500 people.

The most moving moment came when the lights were turned out, and people raised candles in the dark as the names of those who died in Beijing were read over loudspeakers. The alliance maintains a database of 202 victims' names, but says countless more died.

Video messages from eight exiled dissidents, including Wang Dan, Wuer Kaixi, Yan Jiaqi and Wang Juntao, were also broadcast.

Teng Biao, a human rights activist and lecturer in Beijing, addressed the crowd. He said this was his first time at the vigil and that he attended even after colleagues warned him it would be dangerous.

This year vigil had some difficulties. The more radical elements in the Alliance chose to demonstrate separately, attracting some 7,000 people at a different venue.

Organisers believe that event's success of the event - with the highest turnout in 24 years - was due to the fact that the people of Hong Kong view with growing concern Beijing's hostility to full democracy in the territory.

For years, the Democratic Party and the Alliance have called for universal suffrage and the direct election of Hong Kong's chief executive.

Many young people attended last night's vigil. Many in the Alliance are concerned that people will forget the sacrifice of the young Chinese who died for democracy in China.

For this reason, the Alliance in April opened China's first museum dedicated to the 1989 crackdown. Thousands have already visited it.

Government-friendly lawmakers walked out of the Legislative Council as pan-democrats observed a minute's silence, after Lee Cheuk-yan's request for formal mourning was rejected by Legislative Council Speaker Jasper Tsang Yok-sing.

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