Tiananmen Square crackdown

Rights theme for Tiananmen march

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 May, 2006, 12:00am

Commemoration in HK to focus on mainland protests

Activists in Hong Kong pushing for the vindication of the June 4 protesters killed in the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 have an additional theme for their annual march tomorrow - support the civil rights campaign in the mainland.

It will be added to the chants for ending one-party rule on the mainland and for its democratisation.

Cheung Man-kwong, an executive committee member of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, admits the call is only symbolic, since there is little Hongkongers can contribute to the fight for human rights over the border.

'Every year we find a new theme for the march. This year, we chose the theme of supporting the rights movement. What we are doing is to raise awareness in Hong Kong about the plight these lawyers and activists are facing, but other than that we can only support them in spirit,' Mr Cheung said.

The civil rights movement on the mainland has gained momentum, with activists having brought issues such as the plight of villagers in Guangdong to international attention.

One of them is Beijing lawyer Yang Maodong , who has been outspoken in support of the villagers in Taishi and Shanwei , and vocal about the closure of the liberal investigative newspaper supplement Bingdian Weekly.

In Taishi, Guangzhou, riot police were sent in to break up a protest by villagers who accused the village chief of embezzlement. Reporters, lawyers and academics going to the village were beaten up. When the villagers finally toppled their chief and a new poll was held, authorities ordered a rerun when the approved candidate lost.

In Dongzhou, Shanwei, at least three people were killed when police opened fire on villagers protesting over a land seizure.

Activists nationwide staged a hunger strike after Beijing authorities detained Mr Yang for two days for attempting a hunger strike in the city.

Legislator Lee Cheuk-yan, who is a vice-chairman of the alliance, said activists had faced few problems this year organising the march from Victoria Park to Central, which begins at 3pm.

Last year they had problems with insurance for the event, and only secured coverage at the last minute.

Mr Lee said the march would serve as a rallying call ahead of the annual candle-light vigil to be held in Victoria Park next weekend, at which hundreds of thousands of people are expected to commemorate the protesters killed 17 years ago by PLA troops.