For former student leader Xiong Yan, joining Hongkongers in yesterday's rally was an extension of his fight for democracy in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago. But in contrast to the tension in Beijing in 1989, he said he felt happy yesterday, as he saw a light of hope among Hong Kong residents. 'Seeing so many banners with slogans seeking responsibility for the massacre, it reminds me of the democracy movement in 1989,' Mr Xiong said as he gathered with thousands of marchers in Victoria Park. 'The spirit is still there - to defend and pursue the truth, to aspire to freedom and to contribute to China. This is exactly the 1989 spirit. The spirit has not died,' Once one of the 21 most wanted dissidents after the Tiananmen crackdown, Mr Xiong fled to Los Angeles via Hong Kong in 1992. Now a chaplain with the US Army, he came to the city from the US state of Alabama on Saturday night - the first time he had returned to Chinese soil in 17 years. 'I think other overseas Chinese democracy activists, like Wang Dan and Feng Congde, want to return home too,' he said. He walked in the front row of the protest march, holding a large banner along with leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China. 'I think there is hope, because increasingly people in Hong Kong know what freedom means,' Mr Xiong said. 'They aspire to and pursue freedom and put it into action. The whole society has hope, and China has hope too.' He urged the city's youth to continue the fight for June 4 vindication. 'Hong Kong is fortunate because the people both understand western culture and inherit good Chinese traditions,' he said. 'So Hong Kong youths have double luck and double responsibility.' Mr Xiong thanked the alliance and Hong Kong citizens for their prolonged support for the democracy movement on the mainland. The alliance said 8,000 people took part in the rally. Police said there were 4,700 people at the start of the march at Victoria Park. A 33-year-old traveller from Fuzhou , a Mr Chen, joined the march, saying such events did not happen on the mainland and Hong Kong was more democratic. 'I take part in the march because it's a fight for democracy,' he said. Ching Cheong, deputy editor of Wen Wei Po in 1989, said: 'This is the 20th anniversary of the June 4 massacre but ... there is no progress [in rectifying the June 4 verdict]. Any Chinese with conscience should come out and express their opinions.' Democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming, known as the father of democracy in Hong Kong, took part in the march. He said he was not worried about his personal safety, despite weekend reports that he had been an assassination target last year when canvassing for members of his party.