By Bob San
AAP contributing writer
HONG KONG — A record crowd of 180,000 braved hot and humid conditions to attend the 30-year anniversary memorial of the Tiananmen Square Massacre June 4 at Victoria Park in Hong Kong.
It was on June 4, 1989 when the China Communist Party decided to send in the People’s Liberation Army with tanks and troops into Tiananmen Square to suppress a peaceful rally by millions of students and citizens for democracy in China. The Chinese Government down played the death toll but international humanitarian organizations estimated that thousands were killed.
Since then China has tried to erase the event from Chinese history. China’s Community Party may have succeeded in erasing the Tiananmen Massacre from Chinese history, but it has failed to erase the event from international memories as every year, international media and governments continue to remind the world of the massacre and ask China to acknowledge what it had done.
No where on earth is the effort to remember the Tiananmen Square Massacre more vigilant than in Hong Kong, the only place on Chinese soil where commemorations of the Massacre take place annually at Victoria Park. This year’s massive turnout for the candlelight vigil was in excess of 180,000, a record.
The attendance was boosted by the anger of Hongkongers towards the contentious Extradition Bill, a piece of legislation that, once enacted, would allow Hong Kong to transfer criminal suspects to mainland China. Many Hongkongers fear China will use this bill to arrest Hong Kong political activities and send them to China, where the rule of law does not exist.
At the June 4 Memorial, the crowd paid respect to those who died on Tiananmen Square, listened to speeches and songs, and also heard testimonies from Liane Lee, a Hong Kong activist who is now the vice chair of the Toronto Association for Democracy in China. Lee, who was on Tiananmen Square that fateful night, gave a powerful account of what she saw on the Square that night. Another emotional moment came when a mother of a Chinese student killed on Tiananmen Square spoke to the crowd via video.
Since the June 4 Memorial, Hong Kong witnessed two historic Marches Against the Extradition Bill. The first one, on June 9, drew 1.03 million marcher. A week later, on Jun 16, 2 million marched to demand the Hong Kong government withdraw the bill.