Tens of thousands of people participated in a vigil in Hong Kong on Wednesday to commemorate the day armed soldiers opened fire on pro-democracy protesters gathered in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
It has been 25 years since the deadly crackdown, but many who experienced or witnessed the event are eager to keep the memory of June 4, 1989 alive.
Event organizers estimated that more than 180,000 people packed the six football fields in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, while police estimated a much smaller crowd of about 99,000, the New York Times reported.
The vigil has been held every year since the student-led protests, but Wednesday's event was the largest since 1989.
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The semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong is the only Chinese territory holding a major observance of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The vigil held in Victoria Park was meant to send a message to Beijing that many Hong Kongers support democratic freedoms in China.
"We understand the importance of fighting for the democracy of the China,” Renz Tse, an activist taking part in the vigil, told Voice of America. “The political reforms are now opposed by the Communist Party -- they are trying to elect a chief executive [of Hong Kong] that only responds to the mainland China government.”
According to reports, in Beijing, Chinese authorities had Tiananmen Square under strict lockdown. Hundreds of officers checked identifications and barred journalists from reporting in the square on the 25th anniversary of the massacre.