As today marks the 25th anniversary of the violent crackdown by Chinese troops at Tiananmen Square, Hong Kong prepares for the annual public vigil for the event—the largest and only one of its kind permitted within China.
Organisers have said they are expecting a crowd of up to 150,000 people to show up, including Hong Kong locals, groups of mainlanders who’ve come to Hong Kong for the occasion and expats, following last Saturday’s thousands-strong march in the city commemorating the event.
Every year, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China organises a public event in Victoria Peak where a candlelit vigil is held to remember the student protesters who were killed on June 4, 1989. Participants also demand for government accountability of the event as well as the end of the CCP’s one-party system.
The alliance’s co-chair, Richard Tsoi, 46, told the Wall Street Journal that more and more mainlanders have attended the event in recent years, as well as young people who weren’t even alive when the movement unfolded. He added that the mood has become angrier.
“For the first few years [in the 1990s], the overall mood of participants was overwhelmed by sadness and they mourned for people who died in the massacre,” he said. “More recently, they’ve become more eager to express their anger towards mainland China, including regarding its violation of human rights,” he said.
This comes amidst the opening of the first permanent museum dedicated to documenting June 4, also established by the organisation, which was met with opposition earlier this year. Over 7,000 people have already visited the museum since it opened on April 26.
In the days approaching the anniversary, the Chinese government has, like in years past, gone into overdrive to censor searches related to June 4.
Google services, including Gmail and Google Search, have been blocked in China, and Weibo searches for “Tiananmen”, “square” and “mourn” are all blocked. Code words used previously to evade the censors’ blacklist, like “May 35th”, have been blocked as well. The candle emoticon has once again been removed from Weibo.
Even LinkedIn is reported to have succumb to China’s censors ahead of the anniversary:
— Paul Mozur (@paulmozur) June 3, 2014
It appears, however, that references are still appearing on WeChat.
Mentions of 6.4 anniversary don't appear to be censored from Weixin, China's most popular messaging app. Many sharing photos from 1989.
— Celia Hatton (@celiahatton) June 4, 2014