Sunday, June 05, 2005

Thirty to forty thousand demonstrate in Hong Kong

crowd with candles in Hong KongThere are reports all over the web, but mostly duplicates of the same AP story, except for the BBC.


The AP story on the CTV site:

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong protesters raised candles in the air and sang solemn songs Saturday as they marked the 16th anniversary of China's bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations.

In Beijing, however, security was tight and there were no signs of public commemorations on the giant square, where the 1989 student-led protests ended when soldiers and tanks attacked, killing hundreds of people.

China's Communist party has eased many of the social controls that spurred the Tiananmen protests, but the government still crushes protests against the event -- or any activity that it worries might threaten its monopoly on power.


"My heart is heavy," said Shum Ming, 58, a construction worker. "Hong Kong people will not forget this history when a government uses guns and tanks to crush students. It's very atrocious.''

Protester Henry Ho, 19, a Hong Kong University student, said: "If the Chinese government can say what happened that night and can say that they're sorry, it can show that they are not the same government from the past.''

Many feel a duty to speak out because they have freedoms of speech and assembly that don't exist on the mainland. Hong Kong is ruled under a "one country, two systems'' formula that promises the city a wide-degree of autonomy.

Banners and signs said: Don't Forget June 4, Democracy Fighters Live Forever, and Using History As Proof.

Vigil organizer Lee Cheuk-yan, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance, said, "Our slogan is `Recognize history' and we're asking Beijing to do just that.''

But Donald Tsang, the front-runner campaigning to become Hong Kong's next leader, urged the public on Saturday to be rational about the event, saying China has made great strides in improving its economy and people's livelihood.

"I had shared Hong Kong people's passion and impetus when the June 4 incident happened. But after 16 years, I've seen our country's impressive economic and social development,'' Tsang said. "My feelings have become calmer.''

Mine haven't. For some reason it doesn't seem to help me to calm down when I see Hong Kong's future leader say that a massacre is OK if it is followed by economic growth.

Here are some pictures:

demonstrators with candles

crowd of demonstrators with candles

man holding his head

replica of statue of democracy

I imagine that there must have been smaller demonstrations around the world, but I can't find any reports online. I know there were some demonstrations at the Chinese embassy in London because I was there this afternoon. I'll post pictures and a brief report here and on UK Indymedia once they are ready.

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