Tens of Thousands Mark Anniversary of Beijing Crackdown
HONG KONG (AP) _ Tens of thousands of people, many wearing black armbands, rallied to cheer escaped leaders of China’s pro-democracy student movement Tuesday, the 100th day since its suppression.
In London, 100 white paper flowers were laid on a street in the Chinatown section to commemorate victims of the crackdown. Other protests were held in Taiwan and the Portuguese territory of Macao.
China’s state media did not mention the day.
Many of Hong Kong’s favorite pop singers performed during a nearly three- hour concert to mark the day, but the loudest cheers were for leaders of the movement who escaped Chinese authorities.
Wu’er Kaixi, a charismatic Beijing student who was one of China’s most wanted activists, vowed success for the fight for freedom in a speech to the hushed crowd.
″Democracy will come to China, but it’s going to be a long and difficult road,″ Wu’er said in a voice cracking with emotion. ″If we unite with a democratic spirit, one day we will rebuild the Goddess of Democracy in Tiananmen Square.″
He was referring to the statue that became the movement’s symbol in the final days before Chinese troops entered central Beijing on June 3-4 to clear Tiananamen Square of pro-democracy activists.
China says about 300 people died in the street clashes, but Western security sources say the toll may have been 3,000.
Also addressing the crowd by long-distance telephone were student leader Li Lu and dissident intellectual Yan Jiaqi. Organizers did not say from where the three leaders spoke.
The military suppression traumatized this British colony, which is to return to Chinese rule in 1997.
Police estimated the crowd at more than 20,000, while organizers said it could be up to 50,000.
China’s government in recent weeks has harshly criticized Hong Kong residents who continue to support the pro-democracy movement, which Beijing authorities call a ″counterrevolutionary rebellion.″
Seventeen people staged a 32-hour hunger strike at the local Xinhua News Agency office, which is China’s de facto embassy in the colony. In front of the building was a poster bearing the Chinese character ″ai″ - which means mourning.
Some fasters wore headbands that said, ″We shall not forget.″
Memorial activities began Monday night, when up to 100 people surrounded by glowing lanterns sat in silence for three hours at a downtown monument to war dead. The lanterns were in the shape of the tents used by Chinese students who occupied Tiananmen Square before the crackdown.
About 700 people carrying candles and chrysanthemums attended a concert Tuesday in a Taiwan park despite heavy rains from Typhoon Sarah. The mourners sang songs and recited poems to praise the pro-democracy movement.
In Macao, a Portuguese territory near Hong Kong that also will return to Chinese rule at the end of the century, about 1,500 people gathered for two memorial programs.
Chen Yizi, the highest-ranking official known to have escaped China since the crackdown, led the ceremony, which was attended by about 50 supporters.
Chen is former head of the Institute of Restructuring the Economy and was a close adviser to Zhao Ziyang, the purged Communist Party chief.
At the ceremony, a refugee played a tape of gunshots that rang out in Beijing when soldiers moved in to end the movement.
″It is important to remember what happened and why it happened,″ said a Chinese poet, Duo Duo. ″Today is a day to remember Tiananmen, which was a humiliation to us all, to humanity and for all mankind.″