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The Goddess of Democracy statue at the 2009 candlelight vigil for victims of the Tiananmen Square crackdown

HK faithful vow to keep up June 4 prayer rallies reporter, Hong Kong

June 04 2010

The faithful in Hong Kong have turned out to mark the annual "June 4 Incident" in several Church-run events and vowed to continue their prayer rally in the years to come.

"We will continue commemorating the June 4 Incident even in the face of future restrictions," said Lina Chan Lai-na, an organizer of the Catholic-run prayer rally marking the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, 21 years ago.

The activist expects several hundred Catholics will come for the rally in the early evening of the anniversary day. They will later join tens of thousands of other people at the annual candlelit vigil despite the local authority's recent attempts to keep a tight rein on events.

On May 29, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China erected a "Goddess of Democracy" statue and another sculpture dedicated to the Tiananmen victims outside a shopping mall. Police confiscated them for violating the "Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance" but returned them on June 1 following public outrage.

The police action was "premeditated and a ridiculous excuse," Chan said.

Hong Kong and Macau, former Western colonies, are the only two Chinese cities that can openly discuss and commemorate the June 4 Incident. The Alliance organizes a candlelit vigil to commemorate it every year.

Hong Kong diocese holds commemoration Masses at different parishes from May 25 to June 2. Mass attendees have slightly increased over the years, according to Chan, who is also executive secretary of the diocese's Justice and Peace Commission.

The prayer rally lets participants pray, reflect, repent and sing hymns. They also pray for the victims' parents, human-rights activists and jailed dissidents in mainland China.

According to Chinese authorities 241 people died and 7,000 were injured in the 1989 crackdown on the pro-democracy protesters. The Chinese Red Cross disputes the claim saying 2,000-3,000 people died.

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