Tiananmen Square crackdown

Tiananmen vigil draws young people

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2011, 12:00am


Teenagers who packed Victoria Park last Saturday for a candlelight vigil wanted more than just to mourn those who died in the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square 22 years ago.

Rather, they hoped their presence would inspire more young people to learn about the historic event.

The organiser said 150,000 people took part in the commemoration, although the police put the figure at 77,000.

This was the first time veteran pro-democracy activist Szeto Wah had been absent from the vigil. He died of cancer last January.

Jeff Chan Tsz-koy, 17, said his school history textbook had 'just a few lines' about the Tiananmen crackdown. Instead, he learned about the event on the internet.

'My teachers seldom talk about it. But if we ask them, they will answer,' the student said.

Jeff stressed it was important to respect the rights of people who held political opinions different from the views of those in power.

'I hope more teenagers will know about this event and more of them will come next year,' he added.

Like Jeff, James Chin and Ken Wong, both also 17, took part in the vigil for the first time.

They, too, said they had learned little about Tiananmen in school, but gathered details through online videos and discussions with their friends.

'The event is mentioned in the textbook, but it is not discussed in an in-depth manner,' James said. 'I believe there should be more on it in the textbook.'

Jennifer To, a Year 12 student at Canadian International School, was also a first-time participant. Yet she said that at her school Tiananmen was very much part of history lessons.

Jennifer added that she and her classmates even participated in a school project several years ago. Their task was to visit Victoria Park to interview people about their views on the Tiananmen crackdown.

She said that even young people born after the event should learn more about it.