06/05/2009, 00.00
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150 thousand attend Hong Kong vigil for Tiananmen

by James Wang
It is the only place on Chinese soil that commemorates the massacre. At least 50 thousand participants are young people. Visitors from the People’s Republic also present. Catholics urge justice and peace.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – An estimated 150 thousand people took part in last night’s edition of the candle light vigil that for over 20 years has been held annually in the central Victoria Park, to remember the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and ask China for freedom and democracy.  The turnout exceeded expectations. Trade union leader and organiser Lee Cheuk Yan, had told AsiaNews they hoped for 100 thousand would turn out for the event.  Tens of thousands couldn’t even gain access to the park, with crowds spilling over into surrounding streets.  One expectation was however proven true: the participation of young people in commemorating Tiananmen. It is calculated that over 50 thousand young people were present last night.  Many said they were there to contrast the words spoken by Chief Executive Donald Tsang, who had advised the people of Hong Kong to forget Tiananmen and instead focus on the subsequent economic progress.
Szeto Wah, president of the organising group (Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China), said the turnout - including many young people born after 1989 - showed the success of efforts to “pass the flame of remembrance to a new generation”.
Chinese from the mainland, in Hong Kong as tourists, also took part.  Many Chinese, for whom it is not possible to mark June 4th in China, see Hong Kong as the place where the demands for freedom and democracy for all Chinese people is upheld.
As every year, Catholics turned out en mass, holding a prayer vigil in Victoria Park ahead of the main event. The invitation to Catholics is made by the diocesan office for Justice and Peace.
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