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Taiwan vigil remembers Tiananmen tragedy victims

Beijing is accused of all-out attempts to erase memories related to the 1989 movement
A candlelight vigil was held in Taiwan's capital to remember the victims of Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 on June 4, while commemorations were banned in Hong Kong

A candlelight vigil was held in Taiwan's capital to remember the victims of Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 on June 4, while commemorations were banned in Hong Kong. (Photo: Sam Yeh/AFP)

Published: June 05, 2023 11:32 AM GMT
Updated: June 05, 2023 11:47 AM GMT

Hundreds of democracy supporters joined a vigil in Taiwan’s capital Taipei to remember the victims of China’s Tiananmen massacre of 1989 despite the communist regime’s all-out efforts to erase the memories related to the brutal crushing of the student-led democracy movement.

Taipei’s Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall’s premises became the center stage of the annual vigil on June 4 which saw a large gathering of human rights advocates and supporters both at the venue and online, the Hong Kong Free Press reported on June 5.

Artist Kacey Wong and other human rights activists condemned Beijing’s heavy-handed crackdown and censoring of the support voices towards the Tiananmen massacre as “anti-human.”

“This forbidden demonstration of empathy and sympathy is really anti-human. Taiwan, on the other hand, allows [us] to continue this practice of humanism, to care, to express our sorrow. So that’s why I think the turnout here is even better than last year,” Wong said.

Wong who was a political artist in Hong Kong had fled to Taiwan over safety fears.

Chinese human rights lawyer Chen Jiangang, and Taiwanese NGO worker Lee Ming-che were among the prominent speakers who attended the event.

Danish artist Jens Galschiøt, creator of the Tiananmen Crackdown memorial statue seized by pro-Beijing authorities in Hong Kong joined online for the event.

Earlier this year, Hong Kong police seized Galschiøt’s Tiananmen Memorial popularly known as “Pillar of Shame” in connection to an “incitement to subversion” case from the University of Hong Kong campus.

The Taipei gathering featured a replica of Galschiøt’s original sculpture.

Ex-Tiananmen student leader Zhou Fengsuo spoke to the gathering from New York which is home to the world’s only museum about the Tiananmen crackdown.

The People’s Liberation Army, through a violent crackdown, ended the months-long student-led protests in Beijing on June 4, 1989. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died in the military action.

China has banned public mourning about the event and has removed, blocked, or deleted all references to the event on Chinese social media sites.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in a Facebook post on June 4 slammed China’s heavy-handed approach towards restricting free speech in its territories.

“In the land of Taiwan people enjoy democracy and freedom…,” Tsai said.

“We look forward to the day when our young Chinese friends can sing freely and express themselves with their own creativity, passion and have no worries,” Tsai said referring to a flash mob singing event at the Guizhou subway.

Before the vigil, the National Taiwan University Graduate Student Association in a press conference in Liberty Square demanded the “immediate release” of Lau Ka-yee – a graduate student from the university – who was allegedly arrested in Causeway Bay of Hong Kong earlier in the day.

In response to the allegation, an unnamed Hong Kong government spokesperson in a press release justified the actions of law enforcement officers in the Chinese-ruled territory.

“All law enforcement actions taken by law enforcement agencies are based on evidence, strictly according to the law and for the acts of the people or organizations concerned and have nothing to do with their political stance or background,” the spokesperson said.

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is a democratic and sovereign country that never officially declared independence. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and threatens to annex it militarily.

Taiwan does not have sovereign status in the United Nations due to opposition from China. However, it maintains diplomatic relations with 14 countries and trade relations with some 47 states.

The US is Taiwan’s strongest ally, and the Vatican is the only European state to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan

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