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'Record turnout' at Tiananmen vigil

Organisers say 180,000 people attended candlelight anniversary

Fang Zheng leads a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong Fang Zheng leads a candlelight vigil in Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong
  • June 5, 2012
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A candlelight vigil dedicated to the victims of China's Tiananmen Square massacre attracted record crowds in Hong Kong last night, organisers said, as 180,000 people commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the crackdown.

Thousands were forced to stand outside the packed venue in Victoria Park where police said there were only 85,000 people.

Among them was special guest Fang Zheng, a survivor who lost both his legs when a tank ran him over on June 4, the day the People’s Liberation Army cleared the square of the thousands that remained after weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing and across China.

“I was merely an ordinary person joining the movement and I had only fulfilled my responsibility as a student. All credit should go to those who died in the crackdown,” said Fang, whose appearance at the event was a rarity for a Tiananmen activist since Hong Kong returned to China in 1997. He currently lives in the US.

Wang Dan, one of the principal student leaders of the Tiananmen protests, delivered a video message from the US in which he said the persistence of those in Hong Kong might eventually lead to the rehabilitation of the victims on the mainland.

His comments follow those of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who angered Beijing on Sunday by suggesting this year’s anniversary provided China with an opportunity to release those still imprisoned for their participation in the demonstrations in 1989, believed to be about 10 people.

“We urge China to cease the harassment of participants in the demonstrations and begin dialogue with the family members of victims, including the Tiananmen Mothers,” said Clinton, referring to the group representing the parents, relatives and friends of those involved in the protests.

In response, China’s Foreign Ministry expressed “strong dissatisfaction” at the remarks.

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