June 4th protests

June 4 vigil planners stand by slogan against criticism

Pan-democratic alliance calls for unity after pro-autonomy advocates slam link to patriotism

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 3:20am

Organisers of the June 4 night vigil next Tuesday are confident that recent bickering over this year's slogan will not affect the turnout.

The slogan "Love the country, love the people", unveiled by the pan-democratic organisers of the annual event, has drawn a strong rebuke from pro-autonomy activists who say it links patriotism to the idea of a Hong Kong spirit.

Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of vigil organiser Hong Kong Alliance In Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, urged locals to unite and drive the message behind the vigil to President Xi Jinping .

"I am calling on Hongkongers to end the bickering and stand united," Lee said yesterday.

"Xi has become China's new leader and we need to give him a clear message that Hong Kong people still demand the vindication of the June 4 crackdown as well as the end of one-party rule."

The annual vigil, which commemorates the people who died on Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989, has kept the incident fresh in Hongkongers' minds over the years. This year, the first part of the slogan, "Love the country, love the people; Hong Kong spirit" has overshadowed the rest of the slogan, "Vindication of June 4; never give up".

Pro-autonomy activists led by Dr Horace Chin Wan-kan - who published a book two years ago advocating a "city-state" status for Hong Kong - question the link to the mainland by the use of the word "country" in the slogan.

Lee said the alliance had not considered changing the slogan despite the criticism. The aim of the slogan was to tell the national leaders that Hongkongers loved the country but not the Communist Party, he said.

"Hong Kong people should not be disunited among ourselves. In the face of power, we need to stay united. We need to tell the state leaders that we don't need them to control Hong Kong's democratic progress."

He expected the turnout to be similar to the vigil last year, when a record 180,000 people held what he called "candles of conscience".

Participants can enter Victoria Park in Causeway Bay via entrances near the Causeway Bay and Tin Hau MTR stations, as in last year.

To ensure smooth passage of people, the alliance will continue with last year's arrangement to ban other groups from setting up donation booths close to the Tin Hau entrance at Hing Fat Street.

The vigil will begin at 8pm.