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Guided tour revisits ‘June 4 Incident’

Guides help curious understand feelings in Hong Kong about Beijing in 1989

Guided tour revisits ‘June 4 Incident’
Toour guide briefing participants at Hong Kong Stadium, where more than 20,000 Catholics participated in a Mass for the deaths in the June 4 Incident and the national misfortune in 1989
ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
China

April 21, 2011

Wu Mun-yee was curious as to why tens of thousands of Hong Kong people insist on commemorating what they call the “June 4 Incident” every year. For her, this historical event, which happened when she was only one year old, seemed to be distant and unrelated to today’s events.

“I want to understand if it was simply about many people dying,” said Wu, a 23-year-old parishioner of St. Joseph’s Church in Fanling who joined a guided tour to revisit the June 4 Incident in Beijing – commonly known outside China as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest and massacre – recently.

The “Catholic Organizations In Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China” staged the tour to see a number of local sites of note and listen to guides, who lived through the events of that time, provide an oral history.

She was happy to join the April 16 tour, which helped her to understand “what truth is and how to insist on truth from the Church’s perspective,” she said.

The majority of the two dozen people taking the tour were young. They walked from Victoria Park to Hong Kong Stadium, the Jockey Club in Happy Valley, the former locations of the Xinhua News Agency and two pro-Beijing dailies, as well as Hong Kong University.

Or Yan-yan, project officer of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, said many people walk past these places every day and probably don’t realize that many local people rallied there to support the pro-democratic movement in 1989. The situation eventually turned bloody when the government sent in troops to Beijing's Tiananmen Square to crush the protesters.

Through the tour, the commission hoped people could learn just how much Hong Kong citizens cared about what happened and how the territory walks its path for democracy in the present day.

Guides showed pictures taken at the time of the protests and explained what each site meant to them 22 years ago.

Among those sites, Hong Kong Stadium is the place where more than 20,000 Catholics participated in a Mass for the victims of the June 4 Incident.

Though Cardinal John Baptist Wu Cheng-chung of Hong Kong was a very low-key person, Lam Wing-kwan remembered that the late cardinal “thought our hearts should be linked with those of the students and people in Beijing.”

“Some people said there is no point talking about things in the past,” but Lam said he felt it necessary to let the younger generation know this history due to his faith and mission.

Another guide, Andrew To Kwan-hang, remembered Xu Jiatun, the bureau chief of Xinhua News Agency, coming out to shake hands with him and students who were on hunger strike.

The bureau’s staff even provided a TV for them to watch the events unfold. “I think the Chinese government at that time was more open than it is now,” he said.

Or Yan-yan said she has been encouraged to see many young people joining the commemoration in the past two years, even though the June 4 Incident happened 22 years ago.

“Some people may think the young people are too radical in their quest for social development and democracy. In fact, they show they have a deep understanding of social issues and policies,” she said.

Related reports:

HK faithful vow to keep up June 4 prayer rallies

Tianamen rallies nurture Hong Kong youth’s conscience
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