Final Hong Kong memorial for Tiananmen massacre?
Future freedoms uncertain as Chinese rule approaches
June 4, 1997
Web posted at: 1:03 p.m. EDT (1703 GMT)
In this story:
From Hong Kong Bureau Chief Mike Chinoy
HONG KONG (CNN) -- With Beijing set to take control at the
end of the month, Hong Kong held its annual -- and perhaps
last -- candlelit memorial for Chinese pro-democracy
protesters killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
Tens of thousands of people participated on Wednesday night
in a ritual that could end with China's July 1 takeover.
The rally at Victoria Park was the last under British rule to
commemorate the June 3-4, 1989, crackdown on demonstrators at
Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
A L S O
Tiananmen anniversary quiet in Beijing
Images from a vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong
New at this year's rally was a three-story-high sculpture
featuring twisted human bodies. The "Pillar of Shame,"
sculpted by a Danish artist, was unveiled on Tuesday.
However, Hong Kong officials refuse to allow the sculpture to
be displayed in city parks during the handover celebrations.
Witnesses to the attack by the People's Liberation Army eight
years ago said hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Chinese
civilians were slain. Chinese leaders say the claims are
There has been no outright threat to ban future
commemorations in Hong Kong, but future leader Tung Chee-hwa
is urging the public to put Tiananmen Square behind it and
focus on making the change of sovereignty a success.
Still, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong plan to hold the
rally again next year, signaling a potential challenge in the
territory's relationship with Beijing.
China has approved a semi-autonomous government for Hong Kong
but has warned it must not become a base for the subversion
of the Communist Party. It has labeled some Tiananmen
memorial organizers as subversives.
"The anxiety level of the Chinese government increased after
the June 4th events," says Xu Jiatun, who was China's top
diplomat in Hong Kong until he defected to the United States
after the massacre. "It is still most concerned with the
issue of whether Hong Kong could be a base to promote
political changes in China."
Tung has said rallies that do not break the law will be
allowed after the handover. But he has warned that he won't
let Hong Kong become a hotbed of anti-Beijing agitation.
The future Hong Kong leader has introduced laws giving his
administration the right to ban rallies and demonstrations
that threaten China's national security.
Hong Kong's strong reaction
The bloodshed in 1989 triggered an intense reaction in Hong
Kong. Almost 1 million people -- one out of every six Hong
Kong citizens -- took to the streets. Afterwards, thousands
of people here, disillusioned and worried about their future,
"Before June 4, 1989, nobody could imagine China would use
guns on its own people," says Hong Kong legislator Szeto Wah,
who helped organize protests immediately after the massacre.
"So after that time, Hong Kong people lost hope."
Since then, large crowds have gathered in Hong Kong's
Victoria Park every year to remember those who died and
express their anxiety that future protests here could meet a
Whether Hong Kong's lighting of candles and singing of songs
to remember the dead of Tiananmen Square will be seen as a
challenge to China's national security remains an unanswered
But there are more than a few people here who fear this
year's commemoration could be the last one.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
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