June 5, 1999
70,000 Hong Kong people joined the 10th anniversary Tiananmen Massacre candlelit vigil at Victoria Park organized by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China on June 4, 1999. This is the largest turnout since 1993. In Beijing, a man was arrested at Tiananmen Square after attempting to send out handbills calling for the rectification of the official verdict of the 1989 democracy movement. The Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China said the Chinese government has arrested around 100 dissidents since May in an attempt to forestall any commemoration activities on the mainland.
Chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance Szeto Wah said the turnout shows that the Hong Kong people refused to forget the massacre happened 10 years. He also attributed the high number of attendees to the promotion of the event by the media. A number of Hong Kong newspapers and TV stations carried reviews and documentaries about the Tiananmen this week. Many Hong Kong reporters who were in Beijing 10 years ago covering the massacre also exchanged their reminiscences at several public occasions.
The Hong Kong Alliance has attempted to feature a telephone conversation with Professor Ding Zi-lin, who is compiling a victim list of the Tiananmen and is now under virtual house arrest because of this, in the programme. However, the Alliance was unable to contact Ding, apparently due to the interference of the Beijing government.
During the candlelit vigil, the Alliance announced there have been 100,000 signatures collected in the petition campaign for the revaluation of the 1989 democracy movement, a large part of which is from the Global Internet Petition Campaign (www.June4.org). The website of the Global Internet Petition Campaign is also chosen by Inside China Today as the "website of the day".
Committee members of the Alliance vowed to carry on the annual candlelit vigil until the 1989 democracy movement in rehabilitated. "We will teach the future generations to come to this vigil; we will fight on," Szeto Wah said in an emotional address. He noted that the Alliance has been asked to forget the Tianamen Massacre, but the ones who did the persuasion were the ones who could not never forget the crimes committed.
In his speech, Szeto Wah said the spirit of those who sacrificed their lives in June 1989 would their home in this small island, the only place in People's Republic of China where public commemoration activities for the Tiananmen Massacre can be held without fear of suppression and harassment.
Mak Hoi-wah, committee member of the Alliance noted that the Chinese government has tried to divert the people's attention with the recent bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and slander the commemoration activities.
The pledge to continue the vigil is symbolized by a child carrying a torch to the platform and then lighted a fire together with Szeto Wah. The latter was feeling unwell during the vigil and had to take a short rest before joining the programme again.
The vigil also featured a telephone conference among Szeto Wah, Wang Dan, and Wang's mother Wang Ling-yun. Wang Ling-yun thanked the Hong Kong people for their support to the mainland's democracy movement over the last decade. Wang Dan said there is no way that the Chinese government can cut all the phone lines in the country to prevent the communication between the activists. Both expressed their hope to commemorate the victims of Tiananmen massacre together in Beijing and Hong Kong some day in the future.
The Alliance has planned to hold a telephone conference with Ding Zi-lin as well. However, Ding's line was jammed on the 10th anniversary of the massacre. Wang Ling-yun had to use a secret phone line in order to get in touch with the Alliance.
A man who claimed to be a performance artist threw a bucket of red paint on the Pillar of Shame. He was then arrested by police. Lee Cheuk-yan, committee member of the Alliance, said while the right to free artistic expression should be respected, the man should also extend the same respect for other people's art product.
The Pillar of Shame, a sculpture symbolizing the Tiananmen Massacre, was removed from the University of Hong Kong campus two days before the vigil. Student body of the university complained the university authorities was trying to forestall the erection of the Pillar on the campus by requiring the student body to go through the standard application procedure. However, the student body declared it would not accept this bureaucratic red tape. They planned to erect the Pillar on the campus again immediately after the vigil with or without the university's formal approval. The student body has done a polling in the university which shown the majority of students and staff members agreed to the permanent erection of the sculpture on the campus.
The Pillar of Shame was fully erected at around 4:30 in the morning on the University of Hong Kong campus with the assistance of hundreds of activists and students. About 300 students and activists joined the removal after hearing the call of the student union president Chan King-tze during the vigil. The security guards of the university did not try to stop the truck which carried the sculpture to move into the campus like last year.
In Beijing, a man who tried to distribute leaflets calling for democracy on the Tiananmen Square was arrested by police. Another man who carried an umbrella with words was arrested by police too.