San Francisco memorializes Tiananmen Square massacre

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2019 protest in San Francisco on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. By Suiren2022 via Wikimedia Creative Commons

In remembrance of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre that took place 33 years ago in China, San Francisco and other U.S. cities held vigils in honor of the victims Saturday.

According to San Francisco Examiner, in 1989 the Communist Party of China sent troops who opened fire on the student-led protests in Tiananmen Square. Chinese citizens were demanding democratic reform in the country.

The Chinese government says 200 students died at Tiananmen Square, but others estimate the number in the thousands.

While vigils are banned in China, Hong Kong has held the largest vigils over the past decades. About a million people have walked in the candlelight vigils through downtown Hong Kong.

In recent years, such vigils have been banned and organizers and leaders arrested. These arrests were due to pro-democracy protests in 2019, said a CNN article.

In 2020, Hong Kong’s National Security Law was enacted which enforced stricter punishment for residents in political opposition to the country. The San Francisco Examiner said that San Francisco has seen more people from Hong Kong residing in the city.

“The memorial here suddenly carries more weight,” said Ken Chan to the San Francisco Examiner. “We are expecting a higher turnout rate amongst Bay Area Hongkongers, since the general trend points to a heightened sense of political awareness within this community because of the situation in Hong Kong.”

Chan is a core member of the NorCal Hongkonger Club that co-organized this year’s vigil at Portsmouth Square.

Many United States political figures spoke out about the 33-year anniversary including Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

“Thirty-three years ago, brave Chinese demonstrators inspired the world through one of the greatest acts of political courage in modern times as they stood up for their rights and freedoms in Tiananmen Square.  Today, the image of a lone figure – unyielding before a line of tanks – remains seared in the memory of all democracy-loving people,” Pelosi said in a statement.

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