Hong Kong lawmakers call on Beijing to officially apologise for Tiananmen massacre
The Autonomous Region’s Legislative Council narrowly defeats resolution, but most Hongkongers want to see 1989 movement rehabilitated. Large vigil is planned to mark the anniversary of 4 June crackdown.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) defeated by a narrow margin a resolution tabled by pro-democracy members calling for the 4 June 1989 massacre  not to be forgotten and for the Chinese government to officially apologise and rehabilitate its dead victims.

“While it's been 20 years since the crackdown, Hongkongers still feel the same about it. They still think it was a massacre. They still think the Chinese Communist Party needs to be held accountable,” said LegCo Member lawmaker Lee Wing-tat, a promoter of the resolution.

Trade union legislator Lee Cheuk-yan agrees. “Hong Kong people will never forget the incident,” he said.

The negative vote was expected because of Hong Kong’s electoral system which gives pro-Beijing legislators a majority.

Some 23 legislators voted in favour of it, 16 against it, but 11 had abstained. The split in votes meant it could not be passed

A survey by the University of Hong Kong, based on random telephone interviews with 1,011 residents, found that 69 per cent of Hongkongers think the crackdown was a mistake and 61 per cent believe the mainland government should stop condemning the pro-democracy protests.

In 1989 Hong Kong was still a British Crown Colony (it would return to China in 1997) and a majority of residents where in favour of the students fighting for democracy and against corruption, showing their colours by providing them with money and other forms of assistance.

Hong Kong condemned the massacre by the Chinese army. Since then, a public candlelight vigil has been held every year to commemorate 4 June (2006 vigil pictured). Tens of thousands of participants are expected this year to mark the 20th anniversary of the event.

For Chinese authorities the anniversary is a time to forget, cap it with a cover of silence, labelling the thousands of dead “counterrevolutionaries.”

Last week during a question-and-answer session, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen told the LegCo that Tiananmen Square was a thing of the past and that people should appreciate the benefits of China's economic growth.

This sparked a backlash among LegCo members, eventually forcing Mr Tsang to apologise and recognise that he was wrong to claim that his views reflected those of most Hongkongers.