06/05/2012, 00.00
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Victoria Park, Vigil for Tiananmen gathers more than 180 thousand people

by Eugenia Zhang
Many of the participants came from mainland China, where after 23 years, no one can speak of the massacre of June 4. The testimony of Fang Zheng, who survived the massacre: his legs were severed by an army tank. A "House of memory of June 4" has already seen over 10,000 visitors, 20% were Chinese from the mainland China.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - The candlelight vigil of June 4 this year, commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the 1989 massacre in Beijing, has drawn 180,000 people to the Victoria Park, of whom many came from mainland China and attended the commemoration for the first time in Chinese soil. However, local police said there were 85,000 people at the rally's peak time.

Speaking at the rally, Fang Zheng (see photo), a survivor of 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square, said he was moved and shocked to see so many people at the Victoria Park, and it showed Hong Kong people's insistence on showing one's conscience and their pursuit of democracy. It was his first participation in the Tiananmen commemorative vigil in Hong Kong.Fang, now 46 year-old, is wheel chair bound: his legs were severed by one of the tanks on the streets. Speaking to press before the Vigil he said that he is a living witness to disprove Beijing's saying that nobody was hurt by tanks in the Tiananmen Square.

"What moved me most - Fang said at the ceremony - is to see so many young people and university students here." He and his family now live in the United States since 2009. He thanked people in Hong Kong for the continuous support and remembrance of the dead and victims of the 1989 movement over the past 23 years.

He said numerous participants from mainland China were expected as many in China suffered oppressions in different ways and people cannot openly express their opinions. He told the press earlier that he is a living witness to disprove Beijing's saying that nobody was hurt by tanks in the Tiananmen Square.

Wang Dan, a student leader of the 1989 democracy movement, spoke at the rally through a video. The "perseverance" of Hong Kong people to commemorate the June 4 event since 1989 is meaningful, as it shows the people is mature, remembers their past and undertaking a test of their will.

Lee Cheuk-yan, chairperson of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement, a Protestant, told the rally that the alliance is raising fund to establish a "June 4 commemorative house," which will display photos and materials about the pro-democracy movement, the crackdown and the victims. A temporary house has been opened for a month. About 10,000 visitors have visited, of whom 20 percent came from mainland China, Lee said.

A participant from mainland China told AsiaNews at the vigil that he specially came to join the event since people in China have no freedom to express their views, particularly regarding the 1989 event and other restrictions. "Social injustices exist. We, as ordinary people, can only tolerate and keep silent of oppressions," he said.

Before the rally, hundreds of Catholics held a prayer gathering in Victoria Park.


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