Tens of thousands at Hong Kong vigil on Tiananmen massacre anniversary

(Photo: REUTERS / Bobby Yip)Tens of thousands of people take part in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park June 4, 2014, to mark the 25th anniversary of the military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Retired Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-Kiun has attended a vigil to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square killings, attended by some 180,000 people.

On June 4, 1989 the People's Liberation Army sent tanks into Beijing's Tiananmen Square to smash a student movement for democracy in the world's most populous nation quelling reform killing hundreds of people on one day.

Zen, aged 82, has for many years been outspoken on issues relating to freedom and free speech in China.

At the vigil in Hong Kong's Victoria Park on Wednesday he prayed for democracy in China as well as for the release of dissidents, including hundreds of Catholics, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported on a blog.

All six of Victoria Park's football pitches were full, newspapers reported.

Organizers said a crowd of more than 180,000 people attended Wednesday's vigil, while the police put the crowd at 99,500 people.


In his speech, Zen said that some people were suggesting that 25 years on the matter of the Tiananmen massacre should be left to rest.

"But can we do so? The murderers have not admitted their faults nor apologized, can we let those heroes bear the name of being rioters forever?"

Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which organized the vigil, said the number of participants "will only increase until the end of one-party dictatorship on the mainland," The Standard reported.

"Though China's economy has improved, freedoms, human rights, democracy and cultural quality are retreating," said Lee.

"Hong Kong should support mainland citizens to fight for human rights and educate the right values to the new generation."

Although Hong Kong became a Special Administrative Region when Britain handed over control in 1997 it has many freedoms that mainland China does not have.

Human rights lawyer Teng Biao who is a visiting scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, claimed the Chinese central government had never stopped killing since the crackdown and that political dissidents have "gone missing" for many reasons.

The United States said it will continue to "urge the Chinese government to guarantee the universal rights and fundamental freedoms that are the birthright of all Chinese citizens."

But China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei in Beijing accused Washington of a "total disregard of fact."

"It blames the Chinese government for no reason, gravely interferes in China's internal affairs and violates the basic norms guiding international relations," Hong said.

He also criticized the United Nations' high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay who on Tuesday expressed concern about the detention of civil society activists, lawyers and journalists in China ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests.

"I urge the Chinese authorities to immediately release those detained for the exercise of their human right to freedom of expression," she said

The Beijing spokesman said, "The so-called press release made by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay grossly goes against her mandate and constitutes a grave intervention of China's judicial sovereignty and internal affairs."

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