Police confront activists trying to erect 'Goddess' on June 4 march

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 April, 2009, 12:00am

About 100 democracy activists marched to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square crackdown yesterday, and had a brief standoff with police when they tried to place a replica of the Goddess of Democracy at the front entrance of the central government's liaison office.

Marchers dedicated flower wreaths and bowed before the Pillar of Shame sculpture at the University of Hong Kong to pay tribute to people who were killed in the Tiananmen crackdown, then marched to the liaison office in Western district.

The marchers demanded that the central government reverse an editorial published by the People's Daily on April 26, 1989, which they said smeared the names of activists involved in the student movement.

They also called on Beijing to release dissidents arrested during the crackdown, vindicate the democracy movement initiated by university students and hold those who ordered the massacre accountable.

But police stopped the marchers twice and warned them three times, citing the Public Order Ordinance, before closing off a road leading to the front entrance of the liaison office. Police said participants had contravened conditions requiring marchers to assemble at the back door of the office.

They had earlier refused to allow the placing of the democracy statue at the office's front door, saying it would obstruct the thoroughfare.

Unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, a member of march organiser the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, said: 'We wanted to reach the front entrance [of the liaison office] because we wanted to erect the Goddess of Democracy under the national emblem there. That replicates how the statue was placed in Tiananmen 20 years ago.'

Earlier, about 70 people took part in a 20km 'democracy long run' in the morning to mark the anniversary. They ran from Statue Square outside the Legislative Council building to the University of Hong Kong to meet 40 parents and their children who had walked from The Peak.

The oldest runner, Li Kwok-wa, 72, said: 'I took part in the run because I think those who sacrificed themselves in the student movement deserve our respect. I hope that the verdict on them will soon be reversed.'

Fredrick Fan Cheung-fung, 19, a student at Chinese University, said: 'I was born in 1989, the year in which the June 4 crackdown occurred. This makes me feel that I have the responsibility to fight for the vindication of the movement. This year is particularly meaningful because many of us [who were born in 1989] have entered university. Participating in the march as a university student is symbolic.'