Monday 17 December 2018

Hundreds march to mark Tiananmen Square massacre

Hundreds of people braved the rain and marched in downtown Hong Kong today to commemorate the bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy protests in Beijing 18 years ago.

Demonstrators on this annual march called for the Tiananmen victims to be exonerated, and also condemned a leading pro-Beijing lawmaker who argued the June 4 crackdown was not a massacre.

Ma Lik, leader of one of Hong Kong's biggest political parties, sparked outrage in this Chinese territory two weeks ago when he disputed witness accounts of the crackdown, saying troops did not fire indiscriminately at protesters.

Although Ma later acknowledged he might have been "rash and frivolous," in his comments, he still insisted the incident was not a massacre.

Journalists and other witnesses have said troops opened fire with machine guns and that tanks ran over protesters, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands. Numerous news photos showed bloody bodies crumpled in the streets.

Chanting slogans "Vindicate June 4" and "Condemn Ma Lik" demonstrators marched in heavy rain. Organisers said about 1,500 people took part in the annual march.

Tiananmen is an extremely sensitive event in Hong Kong because it happened in the run-up to the former British colony's return to Chinese rule. The news that Chinese troops and tanks had crushed the student-led protest in Beijing horrified Hong Kongers.

Many Hong Kongers sympathised with the protesters. They donated money and supplies to the demonstrators. When news of the killings reached the territory, more than a million poured onto the streets in protest.

A separate candle light vigil is also held every June 4 in Hong Kong - the only place in China where such a large, public display is allowed.

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