A Hong Kong student union began voting yesterday on a motion condemning Beijing’s deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations 20 years ago that left hundreds dead in the Chinese capital.
In the poll, which ends today, the University of Hong Kong student union is deciding on a motion calling for Beijing to “rectify” its position that the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests were counter-revolutionary.
The motion, which comes weeks ahead of the June 4 anniversary of the violence, also argues that the Chinese government should be held responsible for the killings.
Hong Kong is the only Chinese city where protests against the crackdown are tolerated and is the location of an annual candlelight vigil attended by thousands of residents.
“This year marks the 20th anniversary of June 4 and we see it as a chance to establish the student union’s permanent stance on the issue. We want to put everything beyond doubt,” said Martin Kok (郝曉田), the union’s vice-president.
The motion says the government should “be held accountable for the June 4 massacre.”
“After 20 years of denial and injustice, the world has had enough,” it reads. “Thus, as the heirs to those who have fought and died for the freedoms which we now enjoy, we all share a duty to step forward on their behalf lest all of their sacrifices be in vain.”
Hundreds — if not thousands — of people were killed as soldiers from the People’s Liberation Army marched into central Beijing on June 4, 1989, to end the weeks-long demonstrations.
The subject remains taboo in China and human rights groups and activists have said the government is this year making huge efforts to ensure the few weeks ahead of the anniversary pass smoothly.
The Hong Kong students’ poll is being held after the union’s president, Ayo Chan (陳一諤), said last week that the military suppression could have been avoided had the students dispersed peacefully from Tiananmen Square, reports said.