Mainlanders attend vigil in numbers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 June, 2011, 12:00am
 

Growing numbers of mainlanders are making the annual pilgrimage to Victoria Park for the June 4 candlelit vigil - and last night they came out in significant force once more.

Andrew Lung from Shenzhen was among those to do so. 'I want to know more about the history of June 4,' he said. 'I was too young at the time to understand what had actually happened 22 years ago,'' the 29-year-old film producer said.

Lung, in attendance for the second consecutive year, arrived in Hong Kong on Friday night and will return home today. He said the recent arrest of artist-activist Ai Weiwei had troubled him and that while he had heard of the June 4 killings no one from his family or school had ever spoken at length about them.

'I really want to know what actually happened, so I searched on the internet. But history about June 4 is blocked and I am not even able to access Facebook or YouTube. Compared to the mainland, Hong Kong is such a free city,' Lung said.

Another mainlander from Shenzhen had Hong Kong residency but refused to give his name. He attended last night's vigil with seven other friends from the mainland.

'A few years ago, only three or four mainland friends came to join me for the vigil, but now more of them want to take part in it,' said the man, who is in his fifties. 'Besides more mainland people wanting to join the vigil, the relaxation of travel policies also facilitates those who want to come to Hong Kong.'

He added: 'June 4 is something that no one could ever forget.'

Another mainland man - again he would not give his name - wrote the word 'Democracy'' in Chinese on the ground of Victoria Park before the vigil started. He also carried a jasmine flower on his knapsack in reference to the recent 'jasmine revolutions' in Tunisia and Egypt.

'I am not worried about myself sitting in the front row and being identified, I just worry about the safety and liberty of my colleagues back in the mainland if I disclose my full name,' he said.

For the first time since 1990 one face was missing from the vigil: that of the late Szeto Wah, a stalwart of Hong Kong's democratic movement who died in January after a battle with cancer, aged 79.

Szeto did manage to 'appear', though, telling the audience the story of the 1989 democracy movement and the subsequent bloody clampdown in a pre-recorded video broadcast by the organisers.

Szeto supported the mainland student movement 22 years ago and led the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China until his death.

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