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June 4th protests

Come to express anger over Xi Jinping, Hong Kong June 4 vigil organiser says

Lee Cheuk-yan says they want to reignite interest among young people in democracy in mainland China after university student unions stayed away last year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 May, 2017, 7:15pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 May, 2017, 12:52pm

The organisers of the annual candlelight vigil marking the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown have called for more Hongkongers to attend and express their anger at President Xi Jinping before his expected visit to the city in late June.

The organisers also hope to reignite youngsters’ passion for democracy by inviting a high school boy band to perform. The rise of localism has driven university student unions away from the vigil .

Watch: Why Hong Kong student leaders are boycotting the June 4 vigil

Crowds might be down but Hong Kong’s June 4 spirit remains strong with donations up 30 per cent to HK$1.74 million

“It is a very important opportunity to tell Xi Jinping that Hong Kong people are very angry at what he has done in both China and Hong Kong ... The suppression of human rights in China and the suppression of democracy in Hong Kong.” Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China secretary Lee Cheuk-yan said.

“Hong Kong people know very well that the whole so-called chief executive election was fake ... and was controlled by Beijing,” he added.

Lee said the leadership election would give extra meaning to the 28th anniversary vigil this year, in addition to remembering those who sacrificed themselves for democracy in 1989.

Xi is expected to visit the city to mark the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover to China on July 1.

Hong Kong is the only place on Chinese soil where large-scale events to mark the June 4 crackdown are held. Support has waned in recent years as more people, especially youngsters, believe the city should focus on its own fight rather than democracy in mainland China.

The attendance last year was down to 125,000 - the lowest since the 20th anniversary vigil in 2009, according to the organisers. Police put the figure at just 21,800.

Alternative June 4 events around Hong Kong call for change of approach

The organisers expect around 100,000 to take part this year but refuse to predict an exact number. “Our biggest obstacle is our apathy... I think what we need to do is to reignite the passion for political reform in Hong Kong and China.” Lee said, adding that he believed Hongkongers were still passionate about the issues.

It will be the second year that university student unions will be absent from the stage. To represent the voice of the next generation, the organiser has invited high school boy band Boyz’ Reborn to compose a song and perform at the vigil. A representative of the Tiananmen Mothers will speak by video link.