Dissident hopes to attend June 4 vigil

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 April, 2007, 12:00am

Veteran mainland activist Ren Wanding , on his first visit to Hong Kong, says he would like to visit the city again for the candle-light vigil to mark the 18th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

The Tiananmen-era dissident said he would apply for a permit to visit again if invited to attend the vigil held each year on June 4.

He arrived in the city on Monday for his maiden visit and is scheduled to leave on Sunday. He said he believed his permission to visit was granted with top-level permission on the mainland, as officials sought to create a relaxed political atmosphere for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

'Therefore, we [activists] want to make use of this opportunity to do something [to promote democracy and human rights in China],' he said.

He also cited the fact that activists such as himself and Chen Ziming , branded a 'black hand' organiser of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest, had been allowed to visit Hong Kong, as an example of an improvement in the human rights situation.

'Officials nowadays say we are good for the country and for democracy, instead of describing us as counter-revolutionary activists,' he said. He believed Beijing would maintain the relaxed political atmosphere even after the Olympics, as mainland officials would find there was no impact to the stability of society this year or next.

During his stay in Hong Kong, Mr Ren has met local democrats, including Szeto Wah, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, and core member Lee Cheuk-yan.

He will attend 'a human protection seminar' at the University of Hong Kong on Saturday.