Tiananmen Mothers founder Ding Zilin explained yesterday why she did not favour the patriotic slogan proposed by organisers of Hong Kong's June 4 vigil, even as she acknowledged that she thought the city's autonomy advocates - who first criticised the slogan - were being "naïve".
Ding said her row with the Hong Kong Alliance In Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China over its proposed slogan - "love the country, love the people" - for Tuesday's annual vigil was not the first time she had been let down by cross-border efforts at political reform.
She hoped Hongkongers could respect the fact mainland democracy advocates faced different political pressures.
"We parents are living on the mainland … there are things that are best to work on but not talk up," she said. "Here is not as free as Hong Kong. I hope that in the Hong Kong alliance's future activities, they can show more respect to us."
She said the controversy over the slogan began in March, when then-alliance official Tsui Hon-kwong e-mailed her, suggesting she hit back at pro-autonomy activists in Hong Kong, who were challenging the alliance's plans for remembering the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.
She replied a few days ago, saying, "It was naïve for pro-autonomy advocates to try to separate Hong Kong from the mainland". But she also had reservations about the alliance's slogan.
"I thought I would be barraged by the pro-autonomy people, but instead, I was criticised by the alliance's man," Ding said.
Ding said more discussion was needed before her group could decide whether to accept an apology from Lee Cheuk-yan, the alliance's chief. She said yesterday was the first time she had heard from Lee in some 20 years.
Lee conceded that it had been wrong for him to be reluctant to communicate with Ding and he said he hoped their co-operation could continue in the future.
Separately, Wang Dan, a prominent Tiananmen student leader, said in an open letter that Hong Kong autonomy advocates must not boycott the June 4 vigil.