Sunday, 4 June 2017

June 4 vigil brings back fears as Hong Kong marks 20 years of Chinese rule


As hundreds of thousands of Chinese students took to Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, Lee Cheuk-yan felt exhilarated. It was May 1989, and he was one of a handful of pro-democracy politicians in Hong Kong, then a UK colony still eight years away from Chinese rule.
"Young people in China were demanding democracy," he said this week. "We felt that if they made it, it meant Hong Kong would not have to live under an authoritarian regime."
When the tanks rolled in, they crushed the hopes of the student movement and its supporters in Hong Kong.
But the June 4 massacre -- in which hundreds of peaceful demonstrators were killed -- had an indelible effect on Hong Kong. "In the past we were something of an economic city, but after 1989 we became a political city," Lee said.
Tens of thousands of Hong Kongers will attend an annual candlelight vigil to mark the 28th anniversary of the massacre Sunday, in what has become a traditional show of defiance to China and is the only public commemoration of the crackdown on Chinese soil.
The organizers of vigil, which sees a huge park turn into a field of flickering candles, have called on people to come out in a show of defiance to Beijing as the central government plans a huge celebration on July 1 to mark 20 years since Hong Kong's sovereignty passed from the UK to China.
"The Chinese regime is trying to squeeze out the space that we have in Hong Kong and is a threat to our freedom and democracy," said Lee, now general secretary of the Hong Kong Alliance, which runs the annual event.
Many Hong Kong democrats fear Beijing is tightening its grip over the city, eroding its autonomy and increasingly intervening in Hong Kong politics.

Source: CNN

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