06/03/2008, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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March for Tiananmen victims recalls Sichuan casualties

The organisers of the demonstration arranged for the observance of a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of the earthquake that struck China. Chanting and singing suspended, while the proceeds of the traditional gathering of funds will be given to the Red Cross, working in the area of the tragedy.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Condolences for the victims of the earthquake that struck Sichuan last May 12: this is the spirit that animated the participants at the annual march through the streets of Hong Kong, in remembrances of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which took place on June 4, 1989.  There was a solemn tone at this year's march, held the on the afternoon of June 1. 

Szeto Wah, chairman of the  Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, arranged for the observance of a minute of silence in tribute to those who have died, prior to the beginning of the demonstration, which departed at 3 p.m. local time from Victory Park.

According to official police estimates, about 600 people took part in the protest, while the organisers claim that the crowd reached around a thousand: the lowest number recorded from 1989 until today.  The chairman of the alliance also called upon demonstrators not to sing or chant, and to keep their voices low out of respect or the earthquake victims.  The gathering of funds conducted every year for the occasion - which are usually given to relatives of the victims of the Tiananmen massacre - will be given to the international Red Cross, which is bringing aid to the areas struck by the quake.

In spite of the low profile maintained by the organising committee, some protest banners were displayed, one of which revised the slogan of the upcoming Olympics, to be held in Beijing: "One World, One Dream: Universal Human Rights", to call attention to respect for human rights in China.  Also participating in the march was Ching Cheong, a Hong Kong journalist imprisoned in China for more than three years under the accusation of being a spy paid by the Taiwanese government.

At the conclusion of the celebrations, Szeto Wah read a statement that repeated the intention of democratic activists to ask for justice for the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre; he also highlighted the efforts of aid workers in the areas struck by the earthquake, expressing the hope that the situation will return to normal soon.

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