BY HARRISON JACOBS
More than 180,000 people gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park for a candlelit vigil tonight to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown that killed between 300 and 2,600 peaceful protesters.
The vigil, an annual occurrence since the event, is the largest that it has been in years, thanks to clear weather, increased frustration over Hong Kongers’ desire for universal suffrage, and an increased interest from the younger generation.
Victoria Park’s six football fields were filled with people standing vigil, with many overflowing onto the surrounding lawns.
Thanks to relaxed visa restrictions between Hong Kong and the mainland, many mainland Chinese people made the trek specifically for the event. China has banned any mention of the Tiananmen crackdown and has put police out in force to prevent any commemoration.
“A lot of my friends my age are planning to come to Hong Kong for the vigil,” a man from China’s Yunnan province told Businessweek. “The younger generation are mostly unaware of what happened. The China we knew back then as youths is very different from the China today.”
The Tiananmen Square crackdown occurred on June 3rd, 1989, when Chinese soldiers opened fire on peaceful protesters demanding that the government grant political reforms, increased freedom, and the elimination of corruption.
A participant looks on as she and others mourn those who killed during the Tiananmen crackdown at a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park. Hong Kong is the only Chinese territory that is holding any commemoration of the crackdown, owing to the city’s status as a semi-autonomous region.
Visitors to Victoria Park arrived at the vigil to find loudspeakers demanding an end to Chinese communist rule and a human-sized “Goddess of Democracy” statue on display in the park. (Reuters)