Last Saturday evening thousands of people gathered at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to remember those who died in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests which tragically ended in a state-sponsored massacre. The event, which occurs annually on June 4th, is the only such commemoration on Chinese soil.
By 8 pm around 150,000 people, both young and old had gathered on mass to peacefully remember the crackdown which occurred 22 years ago in Beijing with thousands of candles lighting up the many football fields in the park.
There were a number of speeches given in Cantonese and Mandarin which were shown on big screens interspersed with the odd song. Although I couldn’t understand much of it the feeling from the crowd was very powerful and genuine.
It was refreshingly surprising to see so many young people there given that many of them were very young or not even born at the time of the event – this in stark contrast to the mainland where few people their age are aware anything happened.
I was reminded of the last two years I spent in Shenzhen where, despite being only an hour away, not a single word of this event was ever repeated in the official state-controlled news. A sharp reminder of just how tightly the flow of information is increasingly being monitored and controlled.
It may sound a bit grandiose but I left with a renewed confidence in humanity to stand up for the things that matter, even if the path to freedom is long and sometimes dangerous.