Student leaders will miss the annual candlelight vigil commemorating the Tiananmen Square crackdown for the first time because of the growing localist attitude in Hong Kong.
Representatives from the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), which co-led the pro-democracy Occupy sit-ins in 2014, have been giving speeches at the candlelight vigil in Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park every June 4 for more than two decades.
On that day in 1989, the Chinese government opened fire on protesters in Beijing, killing hundreds. Some reports put the death toll at more than a thousand.
Since then hundreds of thousands of Hongkongers have attended the vigil every year. It is the biggest rally in the world commemorating the crackdown.
But this year, on the 27th anniversary, the HKFS will not take part in the rally. The news comes after they ended their alliance with the events organisers, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, last month. No student leaders will give speeches, either.
“The Federation of Students has been the group that has led the whole movement, and been the conscience behind it,” said alliance chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan. He was talking about the ongoing struggle for Beijing to admit wrongdoing.
The Federation of Students said earlier that some members thought they should focus on democracy for Hong Kong, not for the mainland.
So now when the students quit [the alliance], I cannot say I am not sad.”
Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, also a core member of the alliance, called on Hongkongers to attend the candlelight vigil, saying the sea of light would be the biggest denunciation against the Chinese Communist Party.
The Federation of Students earlier said some of its members thought it should not support one of the alliance’s key goals, of “building a democratic China” but focus on the democratic development in the city.
A series of assemblies will be held at different universities across the city to pay tribute to the June 4 crackdown.
The student union of the University of Hong Kong will for the second time organise its own public assembly at Union Building on the campus. Eleven higher institutions, including the Chinese University, Baptist University and Shue Yan University will also organise public assemblies whose main theme is to examine the impact of June 4 event on the city’s future. At Chinese University, this assembly will be held on campus and invite localist groups to give speeches