Tiananmen Square crackdown

Democracy activists unite to support June 4 vigil

Ignoring rifts in pan-democrat camp, groups will attend event and hope Hongkongers will remember courage of 1989 pro-democracy movement as well as bloody crackdown

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 June, 2014, 11:40am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 3:05am

Democracy activists are not allowing the rift in the pan-democrat camp to fragment support for the annual Tiananmen Square memorial vigil in Victoria Park. And they hope that attendees at this year’s event will focus on the 1989 pro-democracy movement as well as the bloody June 4 crackdown that ended it.

Three groups – the Federation of Students, Scholarism and People Power – say they will continue to back the June 4 event despite their row with other democrats, in particular the Democratic Party, over political reform.

Their support is likely to be welcomed by vigil organiser the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which faces challenges from both ends of the political spectrum this year.

People Power member Christopher Lau Gar-hung said his group believes the candlelight vigil at Victoria Park is “iconic and bigger than the alliance itself”.

Student federation secretary general Alex Chow Yong-kang, 23, encouraged Hongkongers to attend the event as a “warning” for Beijing.

“If [Beijing] continues to trample on human rights … we are still here monitoring,” Chow said.

Chow, a third-year student at the University of Hong Kong, said the commemoration should also focus on the pro-democracy movement that preceded the crackdown.

“When we think of June 4, we usually remember the massacre on that day,” he said. “But the vigil seemed to be less focused on the 1989 pro-democracy students’ movement. Hongkongers should also reflect on the courage and determination involved in it.”

While the pan-democrats should remain united on calling for justice regarding the events of 1989, he agreed that the alliance could reflect on criticism it has received.

The three groups will snub a rival rally being staged across the harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui by lawmaker Wong Yuk-man’s Proletariat Political Institute.

Wong says the rally has “become part of Democratic Party electioneering”, referring to the close link between the party and the alliance that was chaired by late Democrat stalwart Szeto Wah from 1989 until his death in 2011.

“You can criticise the alliance for their ways of doing things, we do too … but if you are hosting an alternative rally, are you achieving things that [the alliance] cannot achieve?” Lau asked. “Or are you seeing the Democratic Party as bigger than June 4 itself?”

In another rival event, the pro-Beijing group Voice of Loving Hong Kong will show a video outside Victoria Park on Wednesday that it argues will prove no one died in Tiananmen Square during the military crackdown.

The federation and Scholarism also joined the alliance in its annual march from Victoria Park to government headquarters in Admiralty on Sunday. Afterwards the latter marched to the central government’s liaison office in Sai Wan.

On the challenges this year, the alliance’s vice-chairman Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong said the alliance would insist on doing its job.

“We believe that the more vigil lights we have at Victoria Park, the more chance there will be that our call for the vindication of the June 4 protest will be answered,” Tsoi said.