On 25th anniversary, quiet in Tiananmen Square — but Hong Kong remembers

Published Jun 5, 2014 at 01:10AM

Even as tens of thousands gathered day and night for vigils in Hong Kong and global headlines marked the 25th anniversary of China’s brutal crackdown on student protesters, there was no trace of remembrance at Tiananmen Square, the site of their killing. Tourists posed for pictures below the iconic portrait of Mao Zedong. Children ran laughing through the square. The only sign of that day’s lingering effects: swarms of police patrolling the square and stationed every few hundred feet on the roads leading up to it.

China allows no public discussion of the events of June 3-4, 1989, when soldiers backed by tanks and armored personnel carriers fought their way into the heart of Beijing, killing hundreds, possibly thousands, of unarmed protesters and onlookers.

The silence in the mainland about the anniversary of a pivotal event that shocked the world contrasted with boisterous commemorations in Hong Kong. Large crowds gathered Wednesday night in the city’s Victoria Park for an annual candlelight vigil to remember the victims, holding candles aloft that turned the vast area into a sea of flickering light. Organizers said more than 180,000 people took part, with many overflowing into the streets around the park’s main entrance.

The White House on Wednesday called on Chinese authorities to account for those killed, detained or missing in connection with the military assault on pro-democracy demonstrators. The tally of dead, injured, jailed, executed and missing from the army action has been contentious for 25 years. Chinese authorities initially said the death toll was 23 students and 300 soldiers, but other estimates have ranged into the thousands. The Tiananmen Mothers advocacy group has painstakingly identified 202 victims by name.

The Chinese government has largely ignored the relatives’ demands for an admission of wrongdoing.

— From wire reports

Tens of thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil at Victoria Park in Hong Kong on Wednesday to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chinese military crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Beijing. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
Tiananmen Square itself was quiet Wednesday, as was the rest of Beijing, China’s capital. Heavy security blanketed the area, and a flag-lowering ceremony took place as usual. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)