Hong Kong marks 28 years since bloody Tiananmen crackdown

Thousands of Hong Kongers attended a candlelight vigil on Sunday to commemorate victims of the Chinese government's 1989 brutal military crackdown on protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, while Taiwan's president called on Beijing to "face up" to the history.

To date, there has never been a confirmation on the exact numbers of casualties during the protests between June 3 and 4 in Beijing although estimated numbers by different sources range between hundreds and thousands.

China's President Xi Jinping is expected to visit as part of the celebrations.

"The United States views the protection of human rights as a fundamental duty of all countries, and we urge the Chinese government to respect the universal rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens", it said.

"I believe we all share the same goal, which is to demand that the central government take responsibility for the massacre", said 20-year-old Wong at the park.

Mainland human rights activist, Wang Yan, 52, who has been living in Hong Kong for the past seven years and attended the vigil, warned against complacency over Tiananmen. Richard Choi of Hong Kong's Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Movement in China told reporters this week that the group's work "will remain unfinished" until the government revises its official explanation of the event. "If we give up, are we just going to let it go if people get killed in the future?" she told AFP. In the run-up to the vigil, only about 1,000 people joined an annual march on May 28 to protest the crackdown, the fewest in nine years and the second-smallest number since the marches started.

The park's six football pitches were filled with somber crowds holding candles and phone torches aloft as they chanted and sang.

William Nee, China researcher for Amnesty International, called on the Beijing government to end retaliation against anyone who dares mention the subject.

A statue of Goddess of Democracy is displayed at Hong Kong's Victoria Park, Sunday, June 4, 2017.

A woman in a vest bearing the symbol of the Umbrella Movement takes part in a candlelight vigil to mark the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in Hong Kong's Victoria Park.

For example, this week, Weibo - the Chinese Twitter - informed its users overseas that they will not be able to share photos and videos until June 5 due to an upgrade of its systems, coinciding with the anniversary.

Scuffles broke out briefly among rival protesters before police separated them.

Also a bipartisan group of lawmakers in a letter have urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift restrictions on public discussion of the Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression and to release individuals detained for commemorating the June 4 anniversary and human rights lawyers detained in the "709" crackdown.

Tsai Ing-wen said that the biggest gap between Taiwan and China is democracy and freedom, needling Beijing at a time when relations between China and the self-ruled island are at a low point.

"The student responsible for contacting them sent an invitation only one day before", Student Workshop for Promoting China's Democracy member Chou Ching-chang (周慶昌) said, adding that the DPP had held a separate memorial service at the Legislative Yuan.

  • Leroy Wright