June 4th’s Tiananmen Memorial: Thousands Gather to Honor The Fallen

Jun 3, 2019 | China, GOV, Hong Kong, NEWS

East Asia DeskKari.Amarnani author

by Kari Amarnani

June 4th. 2018 Candlelight Vigil – Victoria Park, Hong Kong – Etan Liam

A candlelight vigil ceremony is held in Hong Kong every year in commemoration of Beijing’s casualties

In June of 1989, a catastrophe emerged on the grounds of Tiananmen Square, Beijing that would change China’s course and history for good. In an effort to revolt and protest, Chinese citizens from all over the country gathered together fighting for democracy and freedom from the Chinese Communist Party.  Many of the attendants were students from universities, determined to struggle for a better future.

The protest did not sit well for the Chinese government. Soon, troops stormed the area and attempted to “pacify” the protestors by force. This led to the arrests and killings of thousands of pro-democracy citizens, filling the people with despair and futility in their attempts for liberation. There has never been an official death toll, but an estimate of 3,000 civilians were injured and deaths were estimated from a few hundred to 10,000 (reported 2017) with most of them being students in college. Every year on June 4th since the tragedy, a shrine is held in Hong Kong to honor the people who had the courage to fight for a better tomorrow.

The memorial is held in Victoria Park, Hong Kong and it gets massive traction among the crowds. This year, there is an estimation of over 100,000 attendees for the memorial service. Though the incident happened in mainland China, absolutely no memorials will be held there. It is prohibited for mainland China citizens to engage in the acknowledgment of the incident. This practice has created tension between the mainland and China’s autonomous states. Even the United States has expressed indignation at China’s intentions to bury the event in history.

Survivors and families members of the victims do not tolerate mainland China’s attempts to erase the incident and pretend it never happened. The memorial gets no traction in the mainland’s media and word of mouth. The very fact that Hong Kong stages the memorial is perceived to be an act of defiance to the mainland, but because the state has its own sovereignty and under international watch, China will remain cautious.  Tensions are high, but the true meaning of the gathering will not be blurred by the strain of two opposing forces. Limited freedom has been attained, but sadly not to the people who had fought for it. Their struggle will never be forgotten. At the end of the day, we are all people advocating for the same thing: peace. 

Photos Courtesy of © Etan Liam