HONG KONG - Thousands of people took part in a march in Hong Kong Sunday to mark the forthcoming 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing.
The march from Victoria Park to the Hong Kong government offices was organised by pro-democracy groups pressing China to revise its official verdict on the deaths of student demonstrators June 4, 1989.
Holding banners condemning the killing of hundreds, possibly thousands, of students in the Chinese capital, the march was led by a group of young people born in 1989.
Police, who traditionally underestimate the turnout for pro-democracy events, said around 4,700 people took part in the march. Organisers were still calculating the turnout Sunday evening.
Before they set off from Victoria Park, the marchers were given an address by one of the student leaders, Xiong Yan, who flew to Hong Kong from the US Saturday.
Xiong, 45, now a US army chaplain, was one of China’s 21 most-wanted Tiananmen Square protestors after the 1989 massacre but escaped to the US via Hong Kong in 1992.
His return for the 20th anniversary marked the first time he had set foot on Chinese soil in 17 years. He told reporters on his arrival: “Hong Kong is the place that has kept the memory of June 4 alive to the world.”
A candlelight vigil is planned at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park June 4 to remember the Tiananmen victims, the only place on Chinese soil that the anniversary can be publicly commemorated.
Hong Kong reverted to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” arrangement that guarantees political freedoms in the city of seven million.
The city’s Beijing-appointed leader Donald Tsang set off a furore earlier this month when he said China had made great economic progress since 1989 and suggested Hong Kong people wanted to forget about the Tiananmen Square events.