06/01/2018, 14.50
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Hong Kong activists have not forgotten Tiananmen Square

In China it is forbidden to talk about the massacre of 29 years ago. Only activists in Hong Kong remember. Survivors recall being saved so that they could tell the truth to the world. A bust of Liu Xiaobo, symbol of the democratic movement, is unveiled. Artist launches a campaign to remember Tank Man. However, indifference and a sense of powerlessness grow among the youth of Hong Kong.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The imperative is to keep the memory alive and force China to take responsibility for the Tiananmen Square massacre.

For this reason, thousands of Hong Kongers take part in numerous initiatives to commemorate the victims of the mass slaughter.

On 4 June 1989, the Chinese army opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators gathered in Tiananmen Square and perpetrated a massacre.

Because of China’s strict censorship, it is probable that the real death toll will never be known. Hundreds, perhaps thousands are thought to have died.

Across the country, talking about and remembering Tiananmen Square is forbidden. Only in the former British colony of Hong Kong – where many fled to – is a memorial vigil held in Victoria Park, which usually draws at least 100,000 people each year.

Among those calling for justice will be two survivors of the massacre, both originally from Hong Kong: Gloria Fung and Kenneth Lam, who spoke to the South China Morning Post.

Lam lives in Hong Kong, where he is a human rights activist and lawyer, whilst Fung fled to Canada and is president of the Canada-Hong Kong Link. Both were saved thanks to the help of some residents of Beijing.

Some students, said Lam, “pushed me down to a lower level of the monument, calling my name and saying: ‘What you Hong Kong people have done for us is enough. You must go back alive and tell people what happened here.’”

Gloria Fung remembers asking the person who had helped her escape what he wanted her to do outside of Beijing. “’Tell the truth,” he replied. “Share the truth with the world and preserve the truth.’”

Yesterday, a group of activists reiterated the demand for justice, unveiling a bust of Liu Xiaobo (picture 2), in Causeway Bay. The Nobel Prize laureate and iconic figure of the pro-democracy movement died in prison last year of cancer.

Famous Chinese artist Badiucao has joined the activists, asking everyone in the world to put themselves in the place of the Tank Man (picture 3), the symbol of Tiananmen Square. "Armed" only with shopping bags, he bravely faced the tanks.

The picture was seen around the world, but who he was and what happened to him remain a mystery. Badiucao had himself photographed dressed up like Tank Man, and shared the picture using the #TankMen2018 hashtag.

Yet, for many activists, remembering the massacre is becoming increasingly difficult. On the one hand, younger people are less interested in the event; on the other, the fear of repercussions is growing as Beijing put more and more pressure on the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Albert Ho Chun-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organises the vigil, is not afraid of Beijing’s repression and plans to continue.

However, for him, the "bigger challenge" is the new generation, “who seem to have confronted some sort of identity crisis ... cynicism and a sense of powerlessness.”

Discouraged by the crackdown against the Occupy Central student movement, many young people in fact plan to boycott the vigil on 4 June because it is too "ritualistic".

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