Updated: Nov 26
On June 4, 2023 the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement (VSSDM) held its 1989 Beijing Tiananmen Square Massacre commemorative candlelight vigil in David Lam Park in downtown Vancouver.
A record number of over 3,000 people attended the event, the last of a series of commemorative activities VSSDM hosts every year to remember the victims of the bloody crackdown of the student protests in 1989. This year the venue has changed to David Lam Park, partly to accommodate a larger crowd, partly to hope to recreate the unforgettable image of the sea of lights in Hong Kong Victoria Park, whose annual vigil has been banned since 2020.
The event began at 4pm with colorful exhibitions of the history of 1989 student movement in Beijing, as well the history of the Hong Kong democracy protests since 2019. On display are articles and images of media reporting chronicling the details of the two movements. A live band performed pop music and democracy songs, people started to gather, many with the whole family, the elderly and small children.
At 7pm Mabel Tung, Chairperson of VSSDM welcomed all participants, she spoke of those who died 34 years ago in Tiananmen Square and the Hong Kongers who died since 2019. She reaffirmed our commitment to not forget the atrocities committed by the authoritarian regime of the Chinese Communist Party and warned us of Chinese agents infiltrating into the Canadian society.
Numerous speakers took to the stage, they included human rights groups from mainland China and Hong Kong, Hong Kong University student union past president, Hong Kong radio host who has served jail time for speaking out, international human right group and a UBC academic. Every now and then the audience put their cellphones on flashlight and waive in rhythm with the democracy songs played.
To conclude the event, thousands of candles were lit up on the sprawling grassland of the waterfront Park, sparkling brightly against the evening summer sky of Yaletown. With the candles in their hands, over 3,000 people vowed never to forget the June 4 Tiananmen Massacre and never to give up Hong Kong. For many who have fled Hong Kong and made Vancouver their new home, this night is the night that they come home.
VSSDM thanks all the volunteers who have worked so hard to made this event a success, we also thank all who participated and we wish to see you again next year and many more years to come.