Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Downpour Mars Candlelight Vigil

Candles lit minutes before the deluge of rain
I just came back from the Tiananmen candlelight vigil to mark the 24th anniversary completely soaked after a giant rainstorm hit us before the event started.

YTSL and I arrived early, around 6.15pm and while there were many people making their way to Victoria Park, the streets weren't blocked off by police yet.

Posters and slogans of what happened 24 years ago
It had rained in the morning so we hoped the weather would hold in the evening and it had cooled off a bit too.

The usual democratic parties were out in force, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung was there, as well as Albert Ho Chun-yan, the Falun Gong were trying to raise money as well as others selling T-shirts, including one with a graphic of Li Wangyang, who died of mysterious causes just before June 4 last year.

We sat quite close to the stage on the right hand side, next to the giant map of Beijing and waited for the event to begin.

To keep the crowds interested, people on stage took turns singing songs that would be performed during the service and periodically notified people about how many football pitches were filled.

By around 7.25pm all the pitches were filled and people coming in had to go to the grassy area. Soon we were instructed to light our candles and in minutes the area was filled with glowing candles.

This year we were quite close to the stage
The crowd was getting revved up with the candles and the songs, but then the rain came.

It started with a few drops, along with what looked like giant wisps of cotton, and then it started to rain. People pulled out their umbrellas and so did we.

But it kept coming, pouring down in fact and people around us began to stand up and eventually we followed. There was thunder and lightning and the more it poured, the more we shouted, "Vindicate June 4!"

Either the sound system didn't work because of the heavy rain or the organizers didn't know what to do but there was nothing coming from the stage.

To fill the vacuum, a group of students behind us started singing a Cantonese song about keeping the spirit and hanging in there. But after that nothing happened. They sang again and again nothing from the stage.

By now the rain had subsided a bit, but the thunder and lightning were still quite menacing.

Many young people took part again in the vigil
YTSL didn't want to leave, but I was already pretty much soaked and eventually I persuaded her to go. Many others decided the same too and we found refuge in the nearby Din Tai Fung restaurant.

After a bite to eat, she went back to catch the last few minutes.

It will be interesting to hear what the organizers claim are the numbers this year with the horrible weather conditions. It's just too bad it was pouring down and it seemed like organizers didn't quite know what to say or do.

We still think it was a relatively healthy turnout, but probably not as many as the record 180,000 last year.

The Goddess of Democracy stands tall
Some people chose not to go because of the public spat between the organizers in the last few days, which is a pity because this event should not be political, but about remembering those who died 24 years ago.

As for the rain, was it orchestrated by Beijing? Or just a coincidence?

By coincidence, it was announced today that former Beijing mayor Chen Xitong, believed to be one of the masterminds behind the Tiananmen Square massacre had died on Sunday.

Former Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang blames Chen for the tragedy in his memoir, and former Premier Li Peng claimed in his diary Chen was director of the headquarters in charge of the crackdown. 

Chen denied any responsibility and claimed he was kept in the dark, adding the tragedy could have been avoided.

While China continues to suppress anything related to June 4, it cannot cover up everything because in the end the truth will prevail.

Vindicate June 4!




4 comments:

  1. "he usual democratic parties were out in force, "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung was there, as well as Albert Ho Chun-yan, the Falun Gong were trying to raise money as well as others selling T-shirts, including one with a graphic of Li Wangyang, who died of mysterious causes just before June 4 last year."

    Don't forget the Tiananmen Mothers. I really respect them -- and know you do too. :)

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  2. I was going to mention them and then wanted to add Li Wangyang and then forgot to add the Tiananmen Mothers! I've mentioned them a few times in the last few days as you know...

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  3. BTW, the last group I saw when I left Victoria Park (the second time around) was those working on behalf of the Tiananmen Mothers. Sadly, a man was engaging in a shouting match with a Tiananmen Mothers representative -- and passersby were shouting at the man in support of the Tiananmen Mothers' representative...

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  4. Oh! Wonder what that was all about! The NYT today has an article sympathetic to the event...

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