Thousands join Hong Kong vigil for Tiananmen Square anniversary

Sun Jun 4, 2017 4:53pm GMT
 

By J.R. Wu and Katy Wong

TAIPEI/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong on Sunday for a candlelight vigil to mark the 28th anniversary of China's crackdown on pro-democracy protests in and around Beijing's Tianamen Square, while Taiwan urged China to make a transition to full democracy.

Nearly three decades after Beijing sent tanks and troops to quell the 1989 student-led protests, Chinese authorities ban any public commemoration of the event on the mainland and have yet to release an official death toll.

Estimates from human rights groups and witnesses range from several hundred to several thousand killed.

Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, is the only place on Chinese soil where a large-scale commemoration takes place, symbolising the financial hub's relative freedoms compared with the mainland.

This year's events are especially politically charged, coming just a month before an expected visit of President Xi Jinping to mark 20 years since Hong Kong was handed back to China.

"When Xi Jinping comes, he’ll know the people of Hong Kong have not forgotten," Lee Cheuk-yan, an organiser of the annual candlelight vigil, said.

On a sombre night, many held aloft flickering flames, sang songs and listened to speeches calling on Beijing to fully atone for the crackdown.

Organisers of the vigil, held in Hong Kong's Victoria Park, said the event drew some 110,000 people, enough to fill more than six football pitches. Hong Kong police estimated the crowd at 18,000.   Continued...

Paramilitary policemen march near Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China June 4, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
 
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