Old leftists pay respects to workers killed in '67 riots

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 May, 2012, 12:00am


Yesterday's 45th anniversary of Hong Kong's worst-ever riots saw roughly 70 former leftists pay their respects to 16 workers killed in the violence.

Chan Sze-yuen, chairman of the 67 Synergy Group, which comprises leftists jailed during the 1967 riots, said it was their first collective visit to the workers' graves.

The workers are buried alongside each other in Wo Hop Shek Public Cemetery in Fanling.

'During the 1967 riots, the Hong Kong government buried some workers who were killed during the disturbances in the cemetery without naming them on their graves,' Chan said, 'The government did that because it was at war with the leftist camp.'

In 1973, the Hong Kong and Kowloon Spinning Weaving and Dyeing Trade Workers General Union - a member union of the Federation of Trade Unions, a Beijing-loyalist - confirmed the location of the graves of more than 20 of the workers. The union subsequently reburied the 16 workers at a particular location in the Fanling cemetery after seeking their families' consent.

Chan said his group last year learned that the workers were buried together, and organised yesterday's visit to mark the anniversary.

'We plan to organise similar visits on May 6 every year in the future,' he said.

The group also aims to seek redress for those jailed and killed during the riots.

The infamous riots broke out on May 6, 1967 when 21 people were arrested during a clash with police outside the Hong Kong Artificial Flowers Factory in San Po Kong.

They escalated in the second half of that year, with the leftist camp staging general strikes and some extremists planting bombs on the streets. According to government statistics, the riots claimed 51 lives; 15 people were killed by bombs and 832 people were injured.

By December 31, 1967, 1,936 people were convicted during the turbulent period.

Luk Tak-shing, who delivered a eulogy at a ceremony held near the workers' graves, said he believed the reputation of those workers would be cleared by history.

Ho Hiu-ming, whose father, Ho Fung, was killed in a police raid in July 1967, said the visit was very meaningful, as it would remind Hongkongers about that dark chapter in the city's history.

'Some people have negative views about the leftists who fought against the British in 1967 because they don't know what exactly happened at the time,' Ho said. 'Many workers and students were arrested even though they did not take any violent actions.'