Organisers of the vigil commemorating the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown have hit back at critics who say it is now purely ceremonial.
Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Alliance In Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, and former legislator Cheung Man-kwong said the gathering in Victoria Park was an important statement of social conscience, and a ceremony.
"The vigil is a solemn commemorative ceremony. There are established procedures for such a solemn ceremony, such as to raise your candles … these are inevitable," Cheung said on a radio programme yesterday.
"Many Hongkongers living far away … insist on attending, and the event has reinforced the memory of June 4 around the world.
"The candlelight vigil in Hong Kong represents the power of the conscience. Any attack on it is an insult to the participants of the vigil over the past 25 years."
Independent legislator Wong Yuk-man led the criticism in explaining why he was backing an alternative rally in Tsim Sha Tsui at the same time as the candlelit vigil at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay on Wednesday night.
Wong's Proletariat Political Institute is co-hosting a rally outside the Cultural Centre with online media platform Passion Times, hoping to attract 3,000 people.
Lee condemned attempts to split the movement.
"The meaning of the candlelight is two-fold: we are commemorating June 4 and we are telling the Communist Party we are against its ongoing suppression [of the people].
"It is a powerful force. Yet some are trying to split and demean the movement just because they disagree with the alliance's work."