Photos: Thousands Gather in Hong Kong for Stunning Tiananmen Square Vigil

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Commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre is only possible in two semi-autonomous cities in China: Hong Kong and Macau. Hong Kongers stepped up with an enormous candlelight vigil for the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre on Tuesday.

The BBC noted a significant difference of opinion about the size of the demonstration, with organizers claiming 180,000 participants gathered around Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, while the police counted only 40,000.

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Many attendees stood silently holding candles, while others wept or chanted slogans such as, “The people will not forget,” and “We refuse to believe the lies.”

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“We gather here to stop the monster that massacred people at Tiananmen 30 years ago,” one of the performers at the event told the massive crowd, which overflowed the enormous Victoria Park complex by a considerable margin.

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The BBC found some people from mainland China in attendance, including a couple whose 11-year-old daughter said, “I am here to learn the real history about China. Now I feel like China is no better than other countries.”

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The Hong Kong Free Press noted the significance of both the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre and the current controversy in Hong Kong over an extradition law which opponents in the business, legal, and political communities fear would fatally compromise Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Parallels were drawn by vigil organizers between Hong Kong’s support for the pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and Hong Kong’s own push for independence and democracy in 2014, the Umbrella Movement. Some of the speakers in Victoria Park were veterans of both the Umbrella Movement and “Operation Yellowbird,” Hong Kong’s effort to help Tiananmen Square survivors flee mainland China after the massacre.

The Hong Kong Free Press cited a sobering statistic from local polls: the number of Hong Kong residents who believe the human rights situation in mainland China is now worse than it was in 1989 has doubled from 15 percent to 33 percent over the past five years.

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