The organiser of the annual June 4 candlelight Vigil in Victoria Park has welcomed this year's high turnout. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China said over 180,000 people took part in the event, which commemorates those who died in the suppression by the PLA of the student-led democracy movement in Tiananmen Square in Beijing 30 years ago. It's the highest turnout since 2014.
"I think people realised that we have to stand firm to protect our rights and our freedom," said the alliance's chairman Albert Ho. "It is not only an ideal that the Chinese people on the mainland have pursued but also in Hong Kong."
"We have to also voice out our support to the Chinese people on the mainland. At the same time, voice out our demand for freedom and our dedication to protecting rights, free from fear."
The alliance had predicted that 180,000 would take part. Last year it said 115,000 people attended the vigil.
The figure put out by the police, though, was much lower.
They said the crowd, at its peak, was 37,000. But that is more than double their figure of 17,000 for 2018.
All six football pitches at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay were full. People were still lining up near Tin Hau MTR station to get into the park at 8.30 pm, half an hour after the vigil had started.
Some of the participants said they felt they had to attend this year's vigil as they fear Hong Kong could just become another mainland city, if controversial changes to Hong Kong's extradition law are passed.
Public commemoration of the pro-democracy movement is banned on the mainland. The SAR government wants to be able to extradite fugitives to jurisdictions with which it has no extradition agreement. These include the mainland, Macau and Taiwan.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of people died in Beijing on June 4, 1989 when the government ordered troops to clear the democracy protesters from Tiananmen Square.
On Sunday a top PLA general, Wei Fenghe, said cracking down on the protesters in 1989 was the correct policy.
Speaking at a security forum in Singapore, he said China had undergone major changes over the past 30 years and the country had enjoyed stability and development.
But speaking later on Sunday in Hong Kong, the secretary of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, Lee Cheuk-yan, said if the killings had been justified, Beijing would allow people to freely discuss what had happened.
Last updated: 2019-06-05 HKT 01:47