04 June 2005


Tens of thousands remember Tiananmen massacre

(Filed: 04/06/2005)

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Hong Kong to remember those killed in Beijing 16 years ago by Chinese troops as they crushed the Tiananmen Square uprising.

Thousands took part in a candlelit vigil to remember those who died

A crowd that organisers estimated at 45,000 chanted "Vindicate the 1989 democracy movement", "Release all political dissidents" and "End one party rule," at the annual rally in in the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Lee Cheuk-yan, a pro-democracy politician and key organiser of the rally, said the event was a success, despite the estimated attendance figures being 50 per cent down on last year.

He said: "There are lots of young people and they are all very critical of what Beijing did in 1989. We are sure this will never be forgotten."

Hundreds were killed on the night of June 3-4, 1989, when troops and tanks rolled into Beijing and seized control of the square that had been occupied by student demonstrators.

Victor Yeung, who brought his two sons aged four and eight to the rally, said: "Last night I took out some materials on the massacre and told them what happened. I hope they remember this.

"This tragedy is not over because there are people who are still in prison because of this."

In Beijing, the communist Chinese leadership was on alert for any protest that could threaten its grip on power. Uniformed and plainclothes police fanned out around Tiananmen square, and dissenters were kept under guard in their homes.

This year's anniversary was made more sensitive by the death earlier this year of Zhao Ziyang, a top leader ousted in 1989 for sympathising with the student demonstrators.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman indicated this week that the government would not consider changing its verdict on the wave of activism that marked the spring of 1989, which it has dubbed a counter-revolutionary rebellion.

"China's development in various areas, the advance of reforms, the expansion of the opening up and the strengthening of democracy and rule by law, have all proved the decision made at that time was right," Kong Quan told a news briefing.

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