24th anniversary of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989

People take photos during a vigil held to mark the 24th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square, in front of a backdrop of Beijing's Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (back), in Hong Kong, on June 4, 2013. More than 100,000 people were expected to attend the candlelight vigil in the former British colony which is the only place in China where the brutal military intervention that ended weeks of nationwide democracy protests in 1989 is openly commemorated. AFP PHOTO / ANTHONY WALLACE

People take photos during a vigil held to mark the 24th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square, in front of a backdrop of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (back), in Hong Kong, on June 4, 2013. More than 100,000 people were expected to attend the candlelight vigil in the former British colony which is the only place in China where the brutal military intervention that ended weeks of nationwide democracy protests in 1989 is openly commemorated. AFP PHOTO / ANTHONY WALLACE

My memory of the Tiananmen Square crackdown is of my mother’s trembling voice over the phone from Hong Kong to me as a young schoolboy in the UK. I had never heard her sounding like that and I knew that something very serious had gone down and that somehow the people of Hong Kong were affected by it. My mother recently told me that prior to the crackdown, Hong Kongers had thought of themselves as seperate to their neighbours on the mainland but that she and her friends felt an almost blood like bond with them during the protests. Maybe it was the looming fear of the handover that was to take place 18 years later or just an emerging solidarity of a people seperated by politics.

I had wanted to attend this vigil each year that I had known about it and was lucky enough to cover it for work the first time I was there. I was able to move freely as a member of the press and was blown away with emotion as the rain poured while people used their umbrellas to protect the flames of their candles, even if it meant getting drenched themselves. It rained so hard that my camera actually died – luckily I had my pics for the night! This was one I took just as the rain started. I liked the backdrop behind the people getting their umbrellas out whilst taking pics on their phones. It took away the seriousness of the occasion whilst hopefully also illustrating the reason we were all there.

 

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