06/01/2009, 00.00
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Thousands march in Hong Kong to remember Tiananmen

by James Wang
Last year there was one thousand, this year there were 8 thousand. Many are expected to turn out for the Victoria Park vigil on June 4th. Xiong Yan, the leader of Tiananmen, now in exile in the USA, got his visa a day before, after a series of rejections. Some students from China present. Hong Kong is the only place on Chinese soil where Tiananmen is publicly commemorated.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – At least 8 thousand people marched through the streets of Hong Kong yesterday afternoon to commemorate the demonstrations and massacre of Tiananmen Square that took place on June 4th 1989.  Among the demonstrators there was also Xiong Yan, one of the leaders of the movement 20 years ago, who today lives in the USA as an army chaplain.  Xiong Yan says he only received a visa to enter the territory a day beforehand, after numerous rejections.

The march wound its way from Victoria Park to government offices and was opened by a group of 20 young people born in ’89.  In this way the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, that organises the commemoration every June 4th, wanted to underline the continuity of the event.  Among the slogans shouted during the march; “Pass the torch on, relay the message of democracy to those who come after us”.

The presence of 8 thousand people – many dressed in the colours of mourning, black and white – was a great success: last year one thousand took part.  According to a survey carried out by Hong Kong University, 61% of its students want the Chinese government to reverse its judgement of Tiananmen and 69% believe Beijing to wrong to have used violence against the defenceless demonstrators.  Last year the percentages were 41% and 58% respectively.

Recently a book of the memoirs of Zhao Ziyang, party secretary in 1989 who was put under house arrest for the rest of his life because of his opposition to the massacre, was published in Hong Kong.  The book, in English and Chinese, has already sold out.  All of this interest in the history of the massacre and Beijing’s responsibility points to the likelihood of increased participation in the vigil that takes place in the evening every June 4th in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park.

Yesterday’s demonstration also saw the participation of Students from China.  Lee Cheuk Yan, a trade union leader and one of the organisers of the annual march and vigil says that Hong Kong “is the only place on Chinese soil that can commemorate June 4. Hong Kong has become the conscience of China to remember... the crime of the Tiananmen Square massacre and push the regime (in Beijing) to admit their mistakes”.

Xiong Yan comments that “there is hope, because increasingly people in Hong Kong know what freedom means. They aspire to and pursue freedom and put it into action”.

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