June 4th protests

Tiananmen vigil organiser calls for unity

Alliance says Tiananmen activists or relatives will give speeches at the candlelight event tomorrow, even as other groups plan their own rallies

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 5:53am

The organiser of the annual June4 night vigil at Victoria Park has called for public solidarity amid plans for separate rallies to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of vigil organiser, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, said one of the 21 Tiananmen activists wanted by the Communist Party had already arrived in Hong Kong from the United States, ready to join tomorrow's candlelight event to mourn comrades who died in the crackdown.

Three other mainland dissidents or their relatives would give speeches at the event, Lee said. They were Wang Dan , a leader in the 1989 movement now living in Taipei; Li Wangling , sister of June 4 activist Li Wangyang who allegedly committed suicide last year - an official account that has been widely doubted - and Lu Yanjing, widow of Zhang Lin who died in the protest. The Tiananmen Mothers support group located Lu only about a year ago, when she visited her husband's grave.

Lee said he expected this year's turnout of those backing the vindication of the demonstrators who perished in the crackdown to be larger than last year's 180,000.

"Many Hongkongers are dissatisfied with the backtracking of the mainland's human rights situation," he said. "They also fear the mainland's high-handed obstruction of Hong Kong's path to universal suffrage."

But this year, the alliance faces challenges from at least two groups of "nativists" - those who want the event to emphasise only Hong Kong's interests and to disregard all issues pertaining to the mainland.

These groups were planning their own commemorative gatherings in Tsim Sha Tsui. One of them is fledgling group Hong Kong Blue Righteous Revolt, which was founded in April.

"We disagree with the alliance's formal style throughout the past 24 years," the group's spokesman Danny Chan Tsz-chun told an audience at the City Forum yesterday.

"There were a million people in the 1989 march, but most of them no longer attend the candlelight vigil. We hope to find new ways to draw more of them out," he said, adding that about 20 followers would be attending the group's gathering.

But Lee rejected Chan's criticism of the annual candlelight vigil. "The event aims to mourn the dead. There won't be much diversity in this," he said.

He also addressed an early controversy over the initial use of "love the country" as part of the event slogan. That part of the slogan has since been scrapped, but Lee spoke in its defence. "The country concerned in the slogan is a China not yet in existence - one that embraces democracy and freedom," he said.

The Observatory has forecast tomorrow's weather to be mainly cloudy with showers.