Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha of Hong Kong celebrates a Mass in the city's Holy Cross Church, marking the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre that crushed a pro-democracy uprising in China on June 4, 1989. (Photo: Supplied)
An estimated 5,000 people attended Masses in Hong Kong parishes on June 4, marking the anniversary of the Chinese army killing thousands of pro-democracy marchers three decades ago. Special Masses were held in seven Catholic parish churches as some 10,000 people defied a ban and gathered in the city's Victoria Park with lighted candles on the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre — a watershed event in Chinese history. Candlelight gatherings in Hong Kong have been a regular feature since the 1989 atrocity, but this year the city's Beijing-backed administration banned it, saying the program could spread the coronavirus. The Union of Hong Kong Catholic Organizations in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China organized Masses and prayers to remember the day. Some 1,000 Catholics attended a Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Ha of Hong Kong in Holy Cross Church.
"We don't want to remember June 4, but we dare not forget it either," Bishop Ha said in his homily, referring to the mostly young people and students who lost their lives in Tiananmen Square. An estimated 10,000 people were killed when some 300,000 troops and their army tanks acted to crush a 50-day uprising against political corruption and seeking democratic reforms, freedom of speech and association. The Chinese communist regime has not released any official death toll, nor has it explained the crimes that warranted such an action against unarmed citizens.Fear, anxiety and anger marked the anniversary this year in Hong Kong as it came after the Chinese parliament on May 28 approved a national security law aiming to target the ongoing pro-democracy movement in the territory."In the past 31 years, we have gone through many June 4 events. This year it comes as the national security law was under preparation," Bishop Ha said. Bishop Ha said mothers of the Tiananmen victims had sought a thorough investigation to find the truth about what had happened. They had also sought a public apology to the families of the dead and injured, he said. "These appeals to the Chinese government may be seen as impractical, but the most practical action was to seek God's will," the bishop said. The students and citizens gathered in Tiananmen Square not for themselves but for the future of the nation, he said. Unfortunately, the tragic incident put an end to political reform in China. He recalled that some people say China is prosperous today because the government managed to end the uprising 30 years ago."But I'm not sure. History is full of uncertainties. Perhaps, if it had not ended in bloodshed, China might have chosen another path and would have been more prosperous today," Bishop Ha said. The bishop expressed his anxiety over the new security law and the communist regime's determination to end Hong Kong's autonomy. "The situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating rapidly. The room for free expression seems to be shrinking smaller and smaller," he said. Bishop Ha said he was unsure if "there could be a June 4 Mass. But no matter how difficult it would be, God would certainly be with us. Walking together gives everyone the strength to take on the mission to continue to love God," he said. A priest who joined Bishop Ha for the Mass said people from different faiths also attended the June 4 Mass. "This is a reflection of the Church's walk with the people and sharing their concern," said Chan Lok Shun of the Union of Hong Kong Catholic Organizations in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, "The Church must share in the anxieties of the world. The Church has a duty to be with us in our worrisome social situation," said Chan.
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