Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong gathered Tuesday night to mark 30 years since China's bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, underscoring continuing concern for Chinese human rights in the semi-autonomous territory, even as its own civil liberties are under threat. Hong Kong is the only region under Beijing's jurisdiction that holds significant public commemorations of the 1989 crackdown and memorials for its victims. As a legacy of British rule, which ended in 1997, Hong Kong has a degree of freedom not seen on the mainland. The annual vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park drew tens of thousands of participants who filled several football fields and held candles in the sultry night air, the AP reports. A minute of silence was held for the Tiananmen crackdown victims.
"By being here, I'm standing for truth and justice, even though I've no hope the Chinese central government will ever do justice to the protesters," said participant Stanley Lui, 42. Organizers said an estimated 180,000 people attended, though police put the number at 37,000. The vigil featured a replica of the "Goddess of Democracy," a plaster sculpture of a female figure holding a torch that was displayed in Tiananmen Square in the days leading up to the crackdown, which is believed to have killed hundreds, possibly thousands of people. "That statue was crushed by tanks at ... the June 4 massacre. So we are rebuilding this here ... to symbolize that we are still continuing to fight for democracy, and continue on the spirit of the '89 democratic protests," said Chow Hang Tung, vice chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements. (The fate of "Tank Man" is still unknown.)