135,000 march as victims of protest are remembered

As many as 135,000 people, according to organisers, took part in a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong to commemorate the crushing of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

Describing the victims of the Tiananmen massacre as "our martyrs" who must not be forgotten, Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, said, “Some Catholics say that it is time to forget, that it is useless to dwell on the past. But those young people who sacrificed their lives for the freedom did it for us. This is why we can never forget.”

Hong Kong, which became part of China in 1997 and which retains civil liberties absent elsewhere in the country, is the only place in China where the events of Tiananmen are commemorated, and many come from elsewhere in China to the annual vigil, which has taken on an enhanced meaning this year following autumn’s pro-democracy demonstrations against Beijing. 

In the days leading up to the anniversary of the massacre, Masses were celebrated in many Hong Kong churches for the dead of Tiananmen Square, and before the vigil Catholics and Protestants joined in a prayer meeting led by Hong Kong’s auxiliary bishop Joseph Ha. During the vigil a wreath was laid at a makeshift memorial in the middle of the crowd while the names of those killed in the 1989 massacre were read out. All then bowed three times, before observing a minute of silence.