TAIPEI (CNA) — Thousands of people attended a vigil in Taipei Thursday to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, demanding the Chinese government redress the wrongs of the incident.
The vigil, which expressed support for democracy in Hong Kong and China, was held at Freedom Square in front of the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.
Participants lit candles or used a candle app on their phones, at 8 p.m. and observed 64 seconds of silence for the victims of the crackdown.
That was followed by speeches from participants and singing in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.
Edith Chung (鍾慧沁), a Hong Kong woman who became a naturalized Taiwan citizen in 2019, organized the vigil because a similar event held annually at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park since 1990 was canceled this year by the special administrative region’s government, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I initiated the vigil to commemorate the Tiananmen Square incident and to support Hong Hongers in their struggle for democracy,” Chung said, recalling the impact of the incident when she learned about it on the news at the age of 16.
“The Chinese government should redress the wrongs of the incident,” participants chanted, following Chung’s lead.
Chung went on to enumerate her other demands to Beijing and the Hong Kong government, such as releasing pro-democracy activists, ending one-party rule, disbanding Hong Kong’s Police Force and exonerating arrested protesters from last year’s pro-democracy protests.
They also chanted “independence for Taiwan.”
Unlike last year’s event, to which prominent political personalities were invited to speak, including then Vice-President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁), this year’s event involved activists and grassroots supporters.
According to volunteer workers on site, about 3,000 people attended the vigil, some of them Hong Kong residents.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) urged countries around the world not to conceal history in a press briefing earlier the same day, a statement obviously directed to China.
“Important dates and efforts to pursue freedom should not be forgotten. We hope freedom and democracy bear fruit in every corner of the world,” Ou said, as she showed two iconic photos of the crackdown, including one that saw a Chinese man standing in front of a column of tanks.
For his part, Lam Wing-kee (林榮基), a Hong Kong book seller who was previously arrested in China and who fled to Taiwan amid fears of Chinese persecution, urged his compatriots in Hong Kong to leave if the territory is no longer safe, suggesting that Taiwan is a good place to stay and conduct long-term resistance against China.