June 4th protests

Soaking for June 4 protesters as storm lashes area

Organiser praises those who stayed and says it shows Beijing 'our perseverance'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 7:18am

Hong Kong Island bore the brunt of last night's storm that forced the annual June 4 candlelight vigil to end prematurely, while also soaking mourners elsewhere in the city who staged their own protests.

Observatory data showed that at 8.45pm more than 30mm of rain had fallen in an hour in the Wan Chai and Causeway Bay area, which includes Victoria Park. The rain caused a 15-minute power failure at 8pm, but the lights and sound system came back at 8.15pm, when the vigil started.

At 8.50pm, however, the organisers announced that the heavy rain had created problems with the broadcast system and the vigil had to end an hour earlier than planned.

Video speeches by Li Wangling, sister of June 4 activist Li Wangyang, who allegedly committed suicide last year, and Wang Dan, a leader in the 1989 student movement, could not be shown.

Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, said he was touched to see that so many people had stayed despite the rain.

"Their participation showed spirit," Lee said. "We showed Beijing our perseverance tonight."

It was not the first time the vigil had been hit by bad weather.

In 2005, 45,000 braved heavy rain to mourn, while 150,000 participated in heavy rain on the first anniversary of the bloodshed.

On May 20, 1989, tens of thousands of people marched under a No8 typhoon signal to protest against the central government's decision to order a curfew in Beijing, just weeks before the crackdown.

Near the Cultural Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui last night, about 300 people labelled as "nativists" gathered to mourn the victims and marched along Canton Road afterwards.

Some especially expressed anger at the adoption by the main vigil's organising alliance of "Love the Country" as part of its slogan, which was later scrapped.

Though primarily a tragedy in Beijing 24 years ago, the participants said the June 4 commemoration should have purely "local features" when performed in Hong Kong.

Outside the central government's liaison office in Western, 10 people mobilised by the group whose name roughly translates into "Hong Kong People Come First" staged a barbecue protest.

One protester Billy Chiu Hin-chung, 28 said: "We Hongkongers' Chinese identity was merely imposed on us by the communists … a country that slaughters its people must collapse."