06/05/2017, 09.20
HONG KONG-CHINA
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Estimated 110,000 people attend Tiananmen vigil in Victoria Park

by Paul Wang

Fewer than last year following break away of young "localists" from commemoration and the pressure to not anger Beijing. The testimony of Ge Guirong, one of the "Tiananmen Mothers". The prayer time of Catholics before the vigil. The unauthorized march of "localists".

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - At least 110,000 people attended the vigil for the Tiananmen Square victims at Victoria Park last night. It is the only non-consumer event to gather such numbers  and the only one allowed in the Chinese world to commemorate those who died in the massacre that took place on the night between June 3rd and June 4, 1989 in Beijing, Tiananmen Square.

Since it was first held in 1990, the moment has become almost a rite: flowers wreaths are laid at the foot of the reproduction of the Monument of Heroes (located in the center of Beijing Square, where the young people gathered before being mowed down by tanks); Eulogies read by some representative of the organizers; A river of candles lit up in memory of the martyrs of democracy; Testimonies of survivors. Last night the testimony via video was that of one of the "Tiananmen Mothers," Ge Guirong, 83, whose son Du Guangxue was killed in 1989. Ge thanked the people of Hong Kong for their support in these 28 years. "As a mother, it is unacceptable that the government fails to admit its responsibility for the massacre, hiding under the words of a 'political storm' ... I hope that the June 4 issue can be resolved honestly and fairly."

Ge Guirong's testimony shows how important this memorial is at a time when the local population is increasingly divided: on the one hand there are young localist students who work for democracy in Hong Kong and to distance the territory from the fate of China (to invoke a kind of independence). On the other hand, there are people who want a relationship with the homeland without problems and want to accept any influence of China in Hong Kong affairs. That is why there are voices suggesting that the annual appointment of the vigil may be soon canceled forever.

According to the organizers - the Alliance for Supporting Democratic Patriotic Movements in China - these divisions are the cause of lower participation, the lowest since 2008. Last year there were 125,000 in attendance.

Before the vigil at Victoria Park, at 18.30 nearby, there was a time of prayer organized by the Hong Kong Justice and Peace Commission, where the auxiliary bishop Joseph Ha spoke.

 

At the end of the vigil, at least 200 young "localists", including Joshua Wong and "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, marched from Victoria Park to the Office of Relations between China and Hong Kong. In the march they shouted slogans against Beijing and called for the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. The police followed the procession, which was not authorized, but there were no incidents.

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