HONG KONG — Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong who plan a protest to mark the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 vowed that the colony's hand-over to China will not stop them from commemorating the event in the future.
"We will still hold the gathering even if they ban it," veteran campaigner Szeto Wah told a news conference Thursday.
He said the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China plans to hold its traditional candlelight vigil June 4 in memory of those who died when Chinese troops and tanks crushed the student-led pro-democracy movement around Beijing's Tiananmen Square eight years ago.
The activists also plan to display in a Hong Kong park a 26-foot-high sculpture titled the "Pillar of Shame" by Danish artist Jens Galschiot that portrays 50 painfully twisted human bodies.
It is not clear whether Hong Kong's post-colonial government, which will be led by former shipping magnate Tung Chee-hwa, will seek to ban the annual pro-democracy protest.
But many believe that this year's gathering will be the last major protest before the British colony reverts to Chinese rule July 1.
Tung has sparked controversy over plans to force demonstrators to get police permits before staging protests and to prohibit foreign funding for local political parties.
Szeto said the alliance had written to Tung urging him to attend this year's June 4 protest.
The leader of Hong Kong's populist Democratic Party, Martin Lee, who emerged as a civic leader in the wake of the Tiananmen protests, described Tung's views on elections as outdated.
"What Mr. Tung has shown, I think it's clear, is that his set of Chinese values is at least two generations outdated compared with modern Hong Kong people's thinking," Lee said Thursday.
"What Mr. Tung said clearly indicates that if people demonstrate about things [with] which he agrees, then you can demonstrate."