June 4 dissidents rally supporters worldwide for 5-month hunger strike

Mainland protesters aim to maintain hunger strike and call on Hongkongers to back them up at this year's vigil in city

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 11:35am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 5:14pm

A rolling five-month international hunger strike is under way in memory of those who died in the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago, part of a campaign launched by a group of leaders of the mainland's 1989 pro-democracy protests.

The leaders, including organiser Wang Dan , also continued their calls for accountability from Beijing over the incident.

Their campaign, dubbed "a global siege" in Chinese, will feature a series of protests at China's major embassies and diplomatic missions worldwide on June 4. Referring to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, Wang said: "We hope the alliance will support us on that day during its [annual candlelight vigil] in Victoria Park."

Wang kicked off the rolling hunger strike on January 1. He was joined by Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan and League of Social Democrats members Andrew To Kwan-hang and Avery Ng Man-yuen on the three days that followed.

Each took his turn to go without food for one day.

Wang said supporters around the world had also joined the campaign since January 1. He was confident the effort would continue until June 4, its targeted finishing date, he said.

Alliance chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said he would meet Wang on Saturday at a seminar hosted by Wang's New School for Democracy in Taipei.

"It's not a problem for [more of] us to join in the hunger strike and to protest outside the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong," Lee said. But he said the alliance hoped to focus on its own activities ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, including the opening of the world's first permanent memorial museum on the incident in Tsim Sha Tsui in April.

The alliance was also in the midst of a campaign to call for the release of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and an end to his wife Liu Xia's undeclared house arrest.

Wang said he kept an open mind about the alliance’s role in his own campaign.

Campaign co-organisers, including fellow exile Wang Juntao , had been setting up a website and recruiting volunteers for the cause, he said.

They would also host seminars about the crackdown, draw international attention to those who died, and compile a list of people whom they believed should be held responsible for the deaths, he said.

In October, mainland media warned Lee and Occupy Central activists that they were "playing with fire" after one of the movement's organisers, the Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, met Shih Ming-teh, a Taiwanese politician seen by Beijing as an advocate of independence for the island.

When asked whether he would risk the ire of Beijing by attending the seminar with Taiwanese activists, Lee said: "If someone wants to find fault with you, he can always find something to say … we shouldn't be afraid and stop our exchanges with the people in Taiwan."

Wang added: "If we stopped doing things that Beijing [disliked], we'd be better off dead … It is a meaningful exchange and Beijing's reaction would only prove that we are doing the right thing."

Ho, To and lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung will also speak at the two-day seminar.