A record crowd joined Wednesday night’s vigil in Largo do Senado commemorating the 25th anniversary of the June 4 incident.
Grassroots lawmaker Au Kam San, a leading member of the Macau Democratic Development Union which has organised the vigil every year since 1990, told reporters he estimated there were “at least” 3,000 participants, “the largest in 25 years.”
There was no police estimate on the number of participants.
Wednesday’s record crowd came after two huge protests against the government’s controversial perks bill last month, the biggest protests since the 1999 handover.
Footage showing the events in Beijing on June 4 was shown during the vigil to remind citizens of what happened in 1989. The organisers also handed out booklets about the background of the incident to everyone who attended the vigil. The organisers had printed 3,000 booklets which, according to Au, were all handed out.
In addition, a banner, surrounded by lit candles paying tribute to the incident’s victims was placed on the ground in front of the stage.
Au and fellow lawmaker Antonio Ng Kuok Cheong let participants share their thoughts and viewpoints during the vigil. Lam Kin Seng, a journalist working for Hong Kong’s Cable TV, commented that locals should treasure the fact that they can freely commemorate the incident.
“I hope that… we can tell those in the mainland [i.e. victims’ families] that we have not forgotten them,” Lam said.
Speakers also included a University of Macau (UM) student from Beijing. He said he initially had doubts about the incident, but came to believe it after seeing pictures.
The student also urged those who are from the mainland to spread the word out about the incident.
The vigil’s participants included many youngsters who were born in the 1990s. One of them, a pupil surnamed U, told The Macau Post Daily that everyone needed to know about history. He also complained that local pupils do not learn anything about the June 4 incident in the classroom. “Even when I asked my teachers about it, they just briefly mentioned it without going into detail or the reason behind it,” U said, adding that local schools should let pupils know instead of avoiding the subject.
Political commentator Anthony Wong Tung told The Macau Post Daily he was glad to see such a high turnout, adding it showed that young people continue the fight for social justice and the June 4 incident to be vindicated. In addition, UM Associate Professor Bill Chou Kwok Ping said that young people were becoming less reserved and more vocal to step up and voice their displeasure and grievances.
The union wrapped up the vigil at about 11 p.m. with songs commemorating the incident and the victims. It had been trying to hold the vigil at the city’s main square for the last two decades but was unsuccessful since the Macau Chinese Students General Association (AGECWM) had held an International Children’s Day event at the location every year. But with the passing of local community leader Ma Man Kei, the event was cancelled this year and the union was finally allowed to hold the vigil in the square for the first time since the mid-1990s.
Between 1995 and last year, the annual vigil was held outside S. Domingos Church near the main square. Before 1995, the vigil was held in Largo do Senado.(macaunews/macaupost)