POLITICS – Photos from Hong Kong’s 2013 Tiananmen Vigil 15

Below are shots from tonight’s candle-lit commemoration in Victoria Park for those who died in the Tiananmen Square Massacre 24 years ago today. Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers filled several football pitches in Causeway Bay to remember the dead…

Refresh this post for updates this evening and tomorrow.

For more details on this year’s vigil and the events and controversies surrounding it, click here.

Umbrellas replaced candles for much of the evening, but spirits were not dampened and the turnout remained strong.

Some events during the evening were cancelled due to the heavy rain and thunderstorms. The vigil ended early at around 9pm.

Organisers estimated that 150,000 attended, police put the figure at 54,000.

During the vigil, it emerged that disgraced former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong (one of the main people blamed for the violent crackdown) had died aged 84. Several sources suggested that he had actually died earlier last week.

Mainland dissidents and ‘wanted’ activists joined the evenings commemoration. However, speeches by Wang Dan and Li Wanling were cancelled due to the heavy rain.

Dozens of cyclists attended to honour the students who travelled around the capital by bicycle in 1989.

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Our city remains the only place in the country where such annual protests – or even references to – the June 4th crackdown are tolerated.

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The image below from tonight, via Business Insider…

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Image below via @hnjhj on Twitter…

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Image below via AFP…

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Previous turnouts, via the AFP:

A summary of today’s events…

  • Huashang Daily in Shaanxi carried an opinion piece entitled ‘We Have to Wake Up From A Historical Tragedy‘ about a fire in Jilin province. Many took to be a veiled reference to 6/4: “…we have to find out why those who died had died, we have to assume responsibility for those who died, we have to guarantee security for those who are alive.” 
  • HK journalists from RTHK, Commercial Radio and TVB have been approached by the authorities at Tiananmen Square in Beijing – cars were searched, keys confiscated and images/videos deleted. The action was deemed ‘a regular check to enforce the law’ by public security officers.  Hong Kong Journalists Association issued a statement against police action in Beijing today.
  • HK leader CY Leung departed for Shanghai on Tuesday – a stunt which lawmaker Lee Cheuk-Yan called an attempt ‘to escape from the June 4 issue’. Leung says that he left to attend the opening of the Urban Land Institute’s Asia-Pacific Summit and is due to return tonight.
  • The Guardian has reported on how mainland authorities have been filtering key words in light of today’s anniversary. Censored terms include words as broad as ‘today’ and ‘tomorrow’. “Other banned words include “tomorrow,” “that year,” “special day,” and many number combinations that could refer to 4 June 1989, such as 6-4, 64, 63+1, 65-1, and 35 (shorthand for May 35th).”
  • 30 university students ended a 64-hour hunger strike at Times Square, Causeway Bay, conducted in memory of those who died 24 years ago.
  • Beijing-backed newspaper Ta Kung Po spoke out against a counter-rally in Tsim Sha Tsui held by those unimpressed with the ‘patriotic’ message of this year’s Victoria Park vigil. Ming Pao has called upon a new generation of leaders to redress 6/4.
  • Taiwan called on the mainland government to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which it signed in 1998. The US, meanwhile, issued a statement (without irony) calling on China to “protect the universal human rights of all its citizens; release those who have been wrongfully detained, prosecuted, incarcerated, forcibly disappeared, or placed under house arrest; and end the ongoing harassment of human rights activists and their families.”
  • The Global Times published an editorial insisting that internet censorship is in the public’s “best interest”.
  • Images going viral today on mainland internet forums…

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A summary of events leading up to tonight’s vigil…

  • The Tiananmen Mothers group criticised new Chinese premier, Xi Jinping, for failing to initiate reforms. They said that 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, 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 was 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.

We are used to seeing ‘Tank Man’, but here are some photos we rarely see – a reminder of what actually happened. This act was committed not by an invading force but by the people’s own government…

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Here is another angle of the ‘Tank Man’ photos, and a wider shot below…

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Wider shot of the infamous ‘Tank Man’ photo, via heritage.org

Also going viral today, a broadcast from Radio Beijing originally aired on June 4th, 1989…

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

See also: ‘China Apologises Unreservedly to Tiananmen Victims; Offers Compensation (satire)

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Full 2-part documentary on the 6/4 crackdown, ‘The Gate of Heavenly Peace’…

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