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Tiananmen Square crackdown

Hong Kong democracy activists in call to ‘end one-party dictatorship’ at June 4 ceremony despite earlier warning

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China held a wreath-laying ceremony to remember June 4 victims and said it would not stop chanting its slogans

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 April, 2018, 6:35pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 April, 2018, 6:45pm

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong on Thursday called for an end to “one-party dictatorship” in China, as they marked the deaths of students and activists in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on the day of the Ching Ming Festival.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China held a wreath-laying ceremony beside a memorial the group placed near the Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower, as those attending took turns to pay tribute to the dead on tomb sweeping day.

The alliance also set up promotional material about social activism in China, with some banners saying: “End one-party dictatorship.”

An “end to one-party dictatorship” – along with “building a democratic China” and “vindicating the Tiananmen Square crackdown” – has been one of the alliance’s main principles since its formation in 1989. It also organises the annual June 4 vigil in Hong Kong.

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Alliance chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said the group would not stop chanting the slogan.

They were responding to recent remarks by former pro-Beijing lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, a deputy to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, who said that those making such calls ran the risk of being disqualified from future elections in Hong Kong.

“We will continue asking China to end one-party dictatorship and implement a democratic election system,” Ho said.

The Democratic Party’s former chairman said Tam’s comments posed no threat to the alliance and that he “was not the first” to urge the group to give up such calls.

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Fellow Democrat Lam Cheuk-ting, who took part in the ceremony, said he would not shy away from making the call in the Legislative Council.

“If you fear such things you should not have got into politics,” Lam said.

Tam, meanwhile, said his remarks last month were only made as he analysed Hong Kong’s close relationship with mainland China.

“Any organisation or individual can make their own decision on saying or doing something, I don’t have the right to stop them,” he said on Thursday.

Tam, who also said he was not speaking on behalf of the central government, added that he was only remarking that recent constitutional amendments in China meant Hongkongers would have to watch their words if they were eyeing a seat in Legco.

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He was referring to a new phrase added to the Chinese constitution’s first article, stating that the Communist Party’s leadership was “the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics”.

After the Tsim Sha Tsui ceremony, the alliance joined other pro-democracy groups in Western at a rally in support of jailed activists and human rights lawyers in China. Dozens of protesters, some wearing T-shirts with the slogan “End one-party dictatorship”, marched from Western Police Station to Beijing’s liaison office on Connaught Road West.

Pan-democrats, including former lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki and independent legislator Au Nok-hin, joined the march.

Among those they called for to be released were Wang Quanzhang, a human rights lawyer who was arrested in 2015 during a massive crackdown.