POLITICS – 2013 Tiananmen Massacre HK Candle-lit Vigil: This Coming Tuesday 8


‘Fatescapes’, a project by Czech artist Pavel Maria Smejkal. Click to enlarge.

For many Hong Kongers, the events of June 4th, 1989 have the same emotional and political equivalence as 9/11 does to the Americans.

The 6/4 massacre not only sparked, but continues to represent, so much of the ongoing suspicion the city feels towards the mainland government. The annual Victoria Park candle-lit vigil itself has become a pressure valve for all kinds of scepticism, mistrust and often disdain for the Communist Party, well beyond its bloody actions 24 years ago. It is also a rallying point for HK’s ‘core values’ and for the local pro-democracy movement which is campaigning for universal suffrage country-wide.

See: Hong Wrong’s coverage & photos from last year’s vigil.

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via ernesthon.com

As with last year’s controversies, several June 4th-related stories are making the headlines during this year’s lead up…

  • The Tiananmen Mothers group have criticised new Chinese premier, Xi Jinping, for failing to initiate reforms. They say he has made ‘giant steps backwards towards Maoist orthodoxy‘ and has failed to hold anyone to account for his party’s ‘sins‘.
  • The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which founded and organises HK’s annual 6/4 commemorations, has agreed to rethink its theme for the 2013 vigil. Originally, the slogan for the 2013 rally was ‘Love the country and love the people; Hong Kong spirit‘. However, Tiananmen Mothers founder Professor Ding Zilin deemed the patriotic slogan ‘stupid’, inappropriate and suggested the Alliance’s leadership had ‘Stockholm Syndrome’.
  • A widespread crackdown on dissidents in the mainland has been under way in the run-up to the 24th anniversary, as one activist, Zhang Xianling, whose son died in the massacre, was prevented from visiting HK.
  • In what has become a customary annual vote in LEGCO to condemn the Chinese army’s actions in Tiananmen Square, pro-Beijing lawmakers remained silent with only 3 of 43 pro-establishment politicians speaking out for justice.

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…These are just recent developments in a year that has seen many citizen’s patience with Beijing hit rock bottom. Opinion of the central government was at an all-time high just five years ago during the Olympics. But – in the past 12 months alone – there have been huge protests forcing CY Leung to back down on ‘National Education‘, as well as anger over ‘mainland mothers’, parallel trading and interference from the Liaison Office. In what is a humiliating sight for the Communist Party, young activists are HK are flying the colonial flag at demonstrations, though more out of resentment than real nostalgia.

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The Alliance are continuing to work towards a HK$5 million permanent museum dedicated to the 1989 crackdown. A collection of memorabilia is currently on display temporarily in HK at City University. The museum is located at ‘I-cafe’, 4/F, Academic Building, City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong. It is open until July 15th, Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm and on weekends from noon till 8pm…

A record turnout is expected once more this year, though numbers are notoriously difficult to measure. The SCMP graph below shows how, typically, the police estimate is half the organiser figure. The true number may lie somewhere in between…

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The Alliance has five operational goals:

  • Release all dissidents.
  • Rehabilitate the 1989 pro-democracy movement.
  • Demand accountability for the massacre.
  • End the one-party dictatorship.
  • Build a democratic China.

Our city remains the only place in China where such annual protests – or even references to – ‘6/4’ are tolerated. Here is a terrifying report from the BBC at the time…

It remains a taboo topic on the mainland…

  • This image shows how Google complies with local regulations to filter search results.
  • This fascinating list details the sensitive words, phrases and loosely connected expressions that were banned from use online during the anniversary in 2012.
  • Here is a bizarre video showing a group of Beijing University students who are either unaware – or unwilling to discuss – the significance of the infamous ‘Tank Man‘ photo. Click here for a full ‘Tank Man’ documentary from PBS Frontline.
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via Epoch Times

Here is an SCMP video from last year’s gathering…

The photo below was taken near HK’s LEGCO in May 1989 – days before the bloody crackdown took place in the capital…

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Even for Hong Kongers and expats who are not politically engaged, it is worth heading down to Causeway Bay at 8pm on Tuesday to see 100,000+ people gather to remember June 4th. There is a very moving and solemn atmosphere and there will be a remarkable silence as the park lights up in commemoration. There will also be speeches, songs, slogans and a mock funeral procession. Candles are handed out at the entrances – it is best to arrive early to avoid the crush and advisable to leave the park from Tin Hau station.

After the vigil, it is likely that a hardcore of protesters – led by Long Hair – will continue to the China Liaison Office and hold out until removed by police.