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Hong Kong activists hold Tiananmen candlelight vigil

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Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong gathered Tuesday night to mark 30 years since China’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s…
Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong gathered Tuesday night to mark 30 years since China’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, underscoring continuing concern for Chinese human rights in the semi-autonomous territory, even as its own civil liberties are under threat.
Hong Kong is the only region under Beijing’s jurisdiction that holds significant public commemorations of the 1989 crackdown and memorials for its victims. Hong Kong has a degree of freedom not seen on the mainland as a legacy of British rule that ended in 1997.
The annual vigil at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park near the bustling Causeway Bay shopping district appeared to draw tens of thousands of participants who filled several football fields and held candles in the sultry night air. Following an introduction of songs in the city’s Cantonese dialect and traditional string music, a minute of silence was held for the Tiananmen crackdown victims.
« By being here, I’m standing for truth and justice, even though I’ve no hope the Chinese central government will ever do justice to the protesters, » said participant Stanley Lui, 42.
Beijing transplant Jay Jiang, 16, said unlike many on the mainland, she knew about the crackdown even as a young child. The 10th grader was taking part in the Hong Kong vigil for the first time.
« The bottom line is the government should not deceive the people about what happened, » said Jiang, beads of sweat dotting her cheeks.
Estimates of the number of vigil participants varied widely, with police putting the figure at 37,000 and organizers at 180,000.
This year’s vigil featured a replica of the « Goddess of Democracy, » a plaster sculpture of a female figure holding a torch that was displayed in Tiananmen Square in the days leading up to the crackdown, which took place on the night of June 3-4,1989, and is believed to have killed hundreds and possibly thousands of people.
« That statue was crushed by tanks at the June 4 crackdown, the June 4 massacre. So we are rebuilding this here… to symbolize that we are still continuing to fight for democracy, and continue on the spirit of the ’89 democratic protests, » said Chow Hang Tung, vice chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which organizes the annual event.
Visitor Winnie Ma, a 55-year-old church worker, said she brought her 80-year-old mother to the park especially to view the statue on the 30th anniversary.
« I don’t know if she will see it vindicated, but I hope that I will be able to, » Ma said.

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