Chinese TV covers Hong Kong Tiananmen vigil for first time

June 9th, 2008 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, June 9 (DPA) A candlelight vigil held yearly in Hong Kong to mark the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square was covered for the first time by Chinese mainland television, albeit indirectly, a news report said Monday. A report plus six photographs appeared on the website of the government-controlled China Central Television (CCTV) after Wednesday’s vigil for the 19th anniversary, the South China Morning Post.

However, the report did not mention anything about the June 4,1989, Tiananmen Square crackdown, when Chinese troops killed hundreds and possibly thousands of student protestors.

It instead focussed on the minute of silence held for the victims of the May 12 Sichuan earthquake, saying the 40,000 plus people had gathered in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to mourn the nearly 70,000 people who have been confirmed dead in the magnitude-8 quake.

Nearly another 17,700 are missing.

The annual Tiananmen Square vigil is the only public memorial on Chinese soil of the 1989 killings.

CCTV covered the gathering on its website with the headline: “40,000 Hong Kong residents attend vigil to mourn killed compatriots in earthquake,” the Post said.

It said the vigil lasted two hours and included recitals, singing, a moment of silence and the laying of a wreath to the martyrs - without mentioning that the martyrs were those who died in the Tiananmen Square massacre.

“The vigil expressed the Hong Kong public’s mourning for their compatriots,” it said. “The candlelight drifted in from all corners and soon formed a luminous ocean.”

China has been accused of white-washing the truth concerning the numbers who died in 1989, and its media is forbidden to make any mention of the incident.

Last year, a newspaper editor was fired after a young employee who had never heard of the massacre accepted and published an advertisement commemorating the 1989 victims.

Although Hong Kong is now part of China, the annual Tiananmen memorial is allowed because of Hong Kong’s status as a special administrative region where citizens have freedom of speech.

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