Hong Kong, June 5 :
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, calling on the Chinese government to commit itself to democratic reforms.
The vigil conducted every year June 4 at the Hong Kong Square to remember those killed in the Chinese army crackdown of 1989 at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square this year saw record participation.
The organisers said some 180,000 attended the vigil, but police sources put the size at 99,500.
People started flowing in to the Hong Kong park hours before the vigil, the only one permitted across China, to call on the government to break its silence and come clean on what happened in the spring of 1989.
The vigil, organised by Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, started off with a video presentation of leaders who headed the pro-democracy movement in 1989.
Lawyer-actvist from China, Teng Biao, in his address said that the crackdowns on human rights activists and dissidents still continue in China and expressed the hope of holding the same vigil in Beijing’s square some day.
“Watching so many people stepping out to show solidarity to the Beijing students is something new and different in Hong Kong,” Evan McDonald, who has lived in the city since 1989, told Efe.
“It was also a moment of fear and uncertainty. I remember workers from one of the adjacent under-construction skyscraper put out a big signboard with letters in red symbolising the bloodshed caused by the government,” he added.
Chinese dissidents, activists and survivors, like every year, through this annual vigil, ask the goverment to bring in democratic reforms in China.
The Chinese regime has still not come clean on the number of deaths nor has it apologised for the crackdown.
The vigil also shows the interest and zeal of the citizens of Hong Kong to demand greater democratic rights, including universal suffrage, a request that the Beijing government promised for the next elections in 2017 but still has not been confirmed.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Victoria port, hundreds of people gathered in the port town of Tsim Sha Tsui to demand universal suffrage for the former British colony.
Hong Kong maintains its own economic and legal system different from mainland China, under the principle of “one country, two systems” since 1997 when the British crown handed over the colony to China.
This “two systems” principle allows greater freedom of expression in Hong Kong unlike mainland China.