Tens of thousands of demonstrators packed Hong Kong’s Victoria Park on Monday night, holding up candles and glowing cellphones to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in a ceremony that included comment from one of China’s highest profile human rights activists.
The crowd, which according to organizers grew to 180,000 people, chanted slogans calling for the Communist Party to revisit its official verdict on the June 4 protests, in which at least hundreds were killed. They also shouted “Leung Chun-ying, shame, shame.” The city’s incoming chief executive angered a number of Hong Kongers earlier this year when he reiterated his belief that Deng Xiaoping deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize for how he improved the lives of ordinary Chinese, despite having overseen the crackdown on student protesters.
Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist lawyer who made global headlines last month after he escaped home imprisonment in China and moved to the U.S. following a tense six-day stay in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, released a statement to be read at the park, saying “We do not desire revenge, but we want to completely reveal the truth….People who are forgetful have no future..
Some protesters donned T-shirts bearing the face of Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Nobel Prize winner, while others sported the face of Ai Weiwei, the dissident artist who was imprisoned last spring. At various points in the night, a large screen projected images from Tiananmen, as well as a computer-animated scene of a man facing down a tank. Activists also projected giant neon lights onto nearby buildings that spelled out the Chinese characters for “resist.”
Pro-democracy activist Fang Zheng, whose legs were crushed by a tank in 1989, was also attending the protest after flying in from the U.S., where he has been living with his family. Mr. Fang was moved to tears at moments during the event, calling the aloft candles a “sea of love.” In a speech before the crowd under a full moon, the activist continued, saying, “Seeing this sea of light I’m so shocked, I don’t know what to say—anyway, saying anything is unnecessary—because your actions have already said everything. You haven’t forgotten what happened 23 years ago.”