Over 1,000 join Taipei vigil to remember Tiananmen Square massacre (update)
Central News Agency
2014-06-05 12:06 AM
Taipei, June 4 (CNA) Over 1,000 joined a candlelight vigil in Taipei Wednesday to mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, calling on the Chinese government to acknowledge the wrongfulness of the massacre and release jailed dissidents. The participants, many of them students from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Macau, gathered at the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to pay tribute to the victims of the bloody June 4, 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy student demonstrators in Beijing. During the vigil, participants, dressed in black, held candles to remember the victims and sang "Do You Hear the People Sing?" -- a revolutionary song from the musical Les Miserables -- to urge the Chinese government to listen to its people. "In addition to righting the wrong, our bigger hope is for the Chinese government to pursue the responsibilities of the Les Miserables perpetrators," said Henry Kwok, a spokesperson for the Association of Taiwanese Students for the Democratization of China, one of the organizers of the event. He said the event also hopes to voice support for dissidents and activists who are jailed or detained in China, noting that the Chinese government has stepped up its crackdown on these individuals this year. Around 20 NGO representatives took to the stage during the vigil, each holding a large photo of a detained dissident in front of them, to protest China's treatment of the dissidents, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. Student leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen protests and Chinese dissidents also attended the vigil and called on the Taiwan public to continue to help push for democracy in China. "The support you gave us 25 years ago, we still need it today," Wu'er Kaixi, who has spent decades in exile, said during a speech. In a video shown at the vigil, Wang Dan, another prominent leader of the 1989 student protests, also urged the public to "persevere a little longer" and unite to accomplish what he called "the real Chinese dream" -- democracy. A Chinese exchange student, who wished to remain anonymous, said she hopes the Chinese government would admit to its wrongdoing. "The students' demands were well-meaning, but the government was too cruel," said the student, who came to Taiwan four months ago. "No matter what, people's lives are the most basic human rights that need to be protected," she said. A 20-year-old Chinese student, surnamed Peng, said he came to the vigil because "there is no such thing in China." "I hope to learn something (about the massacre), but experiencing (a mass gathering) is the main reason why I came," said Peng, a short-term exchange student who was told by school officials not to participate in such gatherings in Taiwan before he left China. Kao Yi-kai, a 33-year-old Taiwanese who was participating in a Tiananmen Massacre vigil for the first time, said he joined the event because he believes everyone should enjoy equal human rights, whether they are from Taiwan or China. Another reason prompting him to take part is because he is "a little worried that if we lean too much toward China, their authoritarian rule would affect our hard-earned democracy," Kao said. Leaders of Taiwan's Sunflower Student Movement, including Chen Wei-ting and Lin Fei-fan, also participated in the event on Wednesday. The Tiananmen Massacre remains a taboo subject in China. After weeks of pro-democracy protests in 1989, Chinese troops and tanks fired on students and civilians at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4. Estimates of the death toll range from several hundreds to thousands. (By Christie Chen)
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