Thursday, June 4, 2009

Twenty years on

Hong Kong remembers:
Candlelight vigil in Victoria Park
earlier this evening

A small part of the estimated 150,000 people
who attended

The Past is a Foreign Country may be the title of a book by historian David Lowenthal. But in that same book, he states that "The past remains integral to us all, individually and collectively".

Earlier tonight, a sizeable number of Hong Kongers remembered a deeply shocking as well as sad event that took place in Beijing 20 years ago. I am so glad that they did.

Because, in the immortal words of George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it". And goodness knows that I really don't want to see a repeat of that terrible event that I will never forget even though I "only" watched it unfold on television thousands of miles away.

(Apologies for the photos being not as clear as one would like them to be. Still, I'd like to put them up on the blog to help document the occasion.)


Brian Naas said...

I will be curious to see whether this gets your Blog banned in China! They had a couple good articles in the Herald Tribune today re: this - one about a soldier who was there and is ridden with guilt and paints pictures of the photos he took then. Needless to say the authorities are not pleased with him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the photos, YTSL.

It's good to see so many Hong Kongers keeping vigil, especially in light of what's been going on in the Mainland.

sarah bailey knight said...

Hi ytsl,

The graininess of your photos enhances the look and feel of the candlelight vigil for this viewer.

Agree with duriandave's earlier comment that your large size photos do give the feel of "being there" which I enjoy.

YTSL said...

Hi Brian --

A couple of years back, a friend of mine visiting Shanghai complained that she couldn't access my blog. So parts of it may be already banned in Mainland China! OTOH, looking at the ClustrMaps, it seems like I do get visitors from Mainland China as well as Hong Kong. So... we shall see!

Hi duriandave --

You're welcome re the photos -- thanks for appreciating them for all of their not being of ideal quality. And yes, it is indeed good to see so many Hong Kongers keeping vigil.

Hi sbk --

Thanks to you too for looking kindly at the photos. And for myself: have to say that I was very glad to have had the privilege to experience that event "in the flesh" last night.

ewaffle said...

The photos are a very moving depiction of a very serious and emotional ceremony/event/memorial. I am happy you were there to record it so well.

One's reaction, even from half a world away, to the Tiananmen Square protests, is still very fresh. It isn't recalled in the same way as, for example, Sept. 11, 2001 (at least in the United States) because it was an ongoing story before the 24-hour news cycle and the internet brought us everything immediately but everyone was talking about the man who faced down the tanks the next day.

YTSL said...

Hi ewaffle --

Yes, it was a very emotional evening. My heart started welling up even before I got to Victoria Park as, upon getting out at nearby Tin Hau MTR station, I realised that lots of people were -- like me -- heading towards Victoria Park to take part, be counted, etc. And upon seeing the huge crowd of people... well, just recalling the sight is threatening to get me all teary-eyed once more.

As for my memories of the events of the summer of 1989: That was a very eventful time indeed. Don't know whether others can remember that those summer months also saw the death of Ayatollah Khomeini and the victory of Solidarity in Poland. But the BBC brought those world events into my home that summer -- and it felt like the whole world was going through a sea change -- sometimes for bad, other times for worse but occasionally also in a way that gave one hope.