HK pro-independence activists question value of annual June 4 vigil to commemorate crackdown at Tiananmen Square

04-Jun-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Pro-independence activists in Hong Kong have called for an end to the city’s annual June 4 vigil to commemorate Beijing’s military crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The activists said at a forum on Sunday it was more important to learn from the failure of the Beijing students’ pro-democracy campaign than to remember it every year.

Baggio Leung Chung-hang, of the Hong Kong National Front, also questioned the event organisers’ aim of establishing democracy in China.

“Hong Kong would suffer from China’s democratisation because, in terms of population, Hong Kong is a very small minority. And in the parliament, our concerns would not be heeded,” he said.

Leung was elected to the legislature in 2016, but was eventually disqualified for taking an improper oath of office.

At Sunday’s forum at the University of Hong Kong, Leung and the other activists stuck to their belief that Hong Kong should be independent from Beijing.

The event organised by student unions from HKU, Chinese University, Polytechnic University, Baptist University, Education University and City University, along with the Federation of Students attracted a crowd of about 50.

The forum was meant to be a discussion of Hong Kong’s democratic development against the backdrop of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown. Instead, it quickly became a debate on Hong Kong independence.

Beijing and the Hong Kong government have criticised calls for independence as unconstitutional. Last year, the Hong Kong government outlawed the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party.

“It is naive to think Hong Kong can have democracy if China becomes a democratic country,” said Tony Chung Hon-lam, of the pro-independence group Student Localism.

“Before 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony and Britain is a democratic country. But did Britain allow Hong Kong democracy?”

Can joining the annual June 4 vigil get the Chinese authorities overthrown?

Wayne Chan, Hong Kong Independence Union

Wayne Chan Ka-kui, of the Hong Kong Independence Union, said: “Can joining the annual June 4 vigil get the Chinese authorities overthrown? If what we did in the past 30 years is not working, why do we not think of some new ways to help Hong Kong achieve democracy?”

Sharing the stage was Tonyee Chow Hang-tung, of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organises June 4 commemorations in Hong Kong.

Chow told the forum democracy and freedoms were universal values.

“Whether you identify yourself as a Hongkonger or Chinese, there is no reason you should not support these [values],” she said.

The rise of localism in Hong Kong has been blamed, in part, for falling turnouts for the June 4 vigil in recent years. Several student unions at major universities boycotted the vigil, saying June 4 was a “Chinese affair” and had nothing to do with Hong Kong.

Even so, the alliance expects a big turnout for this year’s event because it is the 30th anniversary of the bloody crackdown.

Also on Sunday, a key leader of the Tiananmen movement, Feng Congde, 53, was refused entry to Hong Kong and sent back to Japan.

At a separate session of the forum, Cheung Yui-fai, a former student activist and now a member of the Professional Teachers Union, said the younger generation should not forget what happened in 1989. “The Chinese government would very much like us to forget. But we have to keep commemorating June 4. And that is the best way to resist the Communist Party.”

On June 4, 1989, the Communist Party sent troops and tanks to clear student protesters in Tiananmen Square. Unofficial estimates of the death toll range from the hundreds to the thousands.

Hong Kong, which is ruled under Beijing’s “one country, two systems” policy that guarantees civil liberties, has been the only place in the country to organise major events to commemorate the crackdown.

In mainland China, the crackdown is a political taboo.

Earlier on Sunday at the RTHK City Forum, Chang Ka-mun, a former member of China’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, argued it was wrong to label the June 4 military crackdown a “massacre”. According to Chang, some soldiers were attacked and killed by “rioters” during the conflict.

Chang accused the alliance of making money out of organising June 4 commemorative events.


Category: Hong Kong

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