Thousands remember Tiananmen as China tightens security

A boy, accompanied by his parent, participates in a candlelight vigil at Hong Kong's Victoria Park June 4, 2013, to mourn those who died in a military crackdown on pro-democracy movement at Beijing's
Hong Kong’s Victoria Park was the site of a candlelight vigil Tuesday night to mourn those who died in a military crackdown on pro-democracy movement at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Tens of thousands of people held a candlelit vigil in a rain-soaked Hong Kong park on Tuesday to urge China to respect human rights on the 24th anniversary of the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

In China, most mentions of the anniversary were censored from the Internet. Security was tight in Beijing, where on June 3 and 4, 1989, China’s leaders ordered troops to open fire on demonstrators and sent in tanks to crush a student-led campaign movement, killing hundreds.

In Hong Kong, members of the crowd wore black and held candles under umbrellas. Protesters demanded Beijing overturn its denunciation of the pro-democracy movement as a “counter-revolutionary event.”

“Vindicate June 4th!” many shouted. “Never give up!”

Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, is the only place on Chinese soil where large, open commemorations of the Tiananmen massacre take place. The vigil is held up as a symbol of Hong Kong’s relative freedoms and civil liberties compared with mainland China.

“I feel very sad. It’s been 24 years and nothing has changed. The changes that the students of 1989 demanded have not come yet. Instead, things are getting worse and worse. You can see the officials are still very corrupt,” said Doris Poon, a clerk in her late 40s.

Organizers estimated 150,000 people showed up to send a “united message” to China’s new president, Xi Jinping, whose government has clamped down on Internet freedoms and detained anti-corruption activists. Police put the figure at 54,000 at the peak of the assembly.

A record 180,000 people attended last year’s vigil.

Xi became Communist Party chief in November and president in March at a time of mounting public pressure for long-stalled political reforms, though there has been no sign of that so far.

While China grapples with thousands of protests a year, over everything from pollution to corruption and illegal land grabs, none of these demonstrations has even come close to becoming a national movement that could threaten the party’s rule.

“Everybody can see that China today continues to tighten and this suppression of human rights will cause more Hong Kong people to come out,” said pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan.

Security tight in Beijing

In Beijing, Tiananmen Square was packed with tourists on a cool, smoggy day. Plain clothes security and police were out in force, checking identity cards of Chinese tourists.

“It’s June 4, a day the Communist Party and the Chinese government don’t like,” said a young woman from the southern city of Shenzhen, who declined to give her name.

“Older people who remember told us about it. We know June 4. It’s called the day students shed blood.”

The government last week began detaining some dissidents and cutting off telephone and Internet access for others.

“If the government is sensible, next year is the 25th anniversary and they could designate a spot where we could march,” said Zhang Xianling, 76.

Zhang is one of a group of “Tiananmen Mothers” who seek justice for children killed in the crackdown and were closely watched by police as they paid respects to victims in Beijing’s Wan’an cemetery.

Last week, the group denounced Xi for failing to launch political reforms and accused him of taking china “backwards to Maoist orthodoxy”.

“If you want to commemorate it, you should be able to commemorate it,” Zhang said. “That would be an enlightened government.”

Authorities boosted censorship of social media sites, blocking searches not only for terms like “Tiananmen” but even the words “today” and “tonight”, and removing the candle symbol from the list of emoticons on the Twitter-like service Sina Weibo.

A satirical, doctored image of the famous photograph depicting a man confronting a tank – replacing the line of tanks with giant yellow rubber ducks – was circulated online before it was blocked by censors.

Some skirted the restrictions through cryptic allusions.

“The events of that day in that year I will never forget. I will always keep a candle lit in remembrance in my heart,” wrote one Weibo user.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.

Local

Bronx cop saves baby who stopped breathing

A Bronx police officer is credited with saving the life of a 2-month-old baby who stopped breathing Tuesday morning. Police Officer Johnny Castillo, 38, was…

Local

Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…

Local

NYPD looking for lewd D train rider

The NYPD is enlisting the public’s help to find a man they say performed a lewd act on the D train Saturday evening. The incident…

Entertainment

QUIZ: How many English words do you actually…

Are you as smart as you say you are? Are you a word nerd? Take this quick vocabulary test to find out if you're a true wordsmith. Good luck.

Television

'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 12,…

If you've wondered whether Ali and Bethany knew each other, you got an answer tonight: Yes, and in a very tangled way. But many lingering…

Entertainment

Cymbals Eat Guitars Have Everything to 'LOSE'

At its most basic level, a rock band can be thought of as a family, a group of people selflessly devoted to a cause. When…

Entertainment

"Bachelor in Paradise" recap: Episode 4, 'Week Four'

Some things are hard to watch in a “Human Centipede” sort of way. Other things in an “American History X” sort of way. Does “Bachelor…

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.

Travel

Most popular Labor Day weekend destinations

Priceline.com released its Top 20 destinations for the end of summer, including Labor Day weekend. If you’re heading to any of these spots, expect a…

Wellbeing

Working your way to type 2 diabetes: Job…

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, a stressful job can be as risky for your health as a bad diet and no exercise. A…