Over 100 people have attended an “alternative” bilingual candlelight vigil outside Tsim Sha Tsui’s Cultural Centre to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

The event was hosted by pro-democracy activists Michael Mo and Dennis Cheung. They demanded vindication for those who died in the massacre at the national, regional and international level.

🔴 HKFP_Live: Some hongkongers are gathered for an “alternative” vigil in Tsim Sha Tsui to mark 30 years since the Tiananmen Massacre in Beijing: http://bit.ly/2Ko3ZFq

Posted by Hong Kong Free Press HKFP on Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Mo said the event was held for those who did not agree with the patriotic ideals of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, who organise the main, annual Victoria Park commemoration.

He said that many young people do not support the Alliance’s goal of building a democratic China, and the main vigil was becoming “gradually more and more detached from the youth.”

Michael Mo Dennis Cheung Wu Rwei-ren
Organisers Michael Mo and Dennis Cheung with speaker Wu Rwei-ren, a Taiwanese scholar who was previously barred from entering Hong Kong. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The participants observed a moment of silence, gave flowers and electronic candlelights to commemorate the dead.

“We don’t need to chant any slogans or sing any songs to remember those who died. As long as we are still standing here to express to the world that we remember, it’s already enough,” Mo said.

Tsim Sha Tsui Tiananmen vigil
Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The massacre occurred on June 4, 1989, ending months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died as the People’s Liberation Army suppressed protesters in Beijing.

Autumn Chong, who teaches art, said she has been coming to alternative vigils for several years.

Autumn Chong
Autumn Chong. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“I want to have a place that I can quietly commemorate the dead,” she said. “I don’t think chanting slogans is a big problem, but they have to be something we believe in.”

A highlight of the event was a speech by Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee, who fled to Taiwan fearing persecution after the Hong Kong government’s proposed extradition bill is passed. He was interviewed when in Taiwan and a clip was played at the vigil.

Lam Wing-kee
Participants listening to a speech by Lam WIng-kee. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Lam said it was understandable that young people do not want to identify as Chinese, and they have the right to choose not to do so.

“The June 4 incident is a massacre. From a human rights perspective, we should commemorate this,” he said.

Tsim Sha Tsui Tiananmen vigil
Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“Even if you do not identify as Chinese, we should still participate in commemorative events.”

The organisers also invited speakers who were facing different kinds of political pressure in Hong Kong.

June 4 extradition
A protester holding a banner saying “Responsibility for June 4 is yet to be sought, and extradition bill creates new anger.” Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

They included Benson Wong, a scholar whose teaching contract was not extended by the Hong Kong Baptist University; Wu Rwei-ren, a deputy researcher at Academia Sinica who was previously denied entry to Hong Kong; and Owan Li, a student representative at the Council of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, who was punished by the school following a protest.

Eeling Chiu, secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights who organises the Tiananmen vigil in Taipei, also spoke at the event.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.