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September 25, 2017

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Candelight vigil to commemorate 25 years after Tiananmen massacre

TAIPEI -- A candlelight vigil will be held in Taipei on June 4 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in China in 1989.

The event will take place for the fourth straight year at the Freedom Square in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. It will include speeches, video displays, music performances and a candlelit ceremony, according to a Taiwanese student group promoting democracy in China, one of the main organizers of the event.

Some activists who participated in the 1989 student-led protests will speak at the event, including Wuer Kaixi, Yang Jianli and Tong Yi, Chou Ching-chang, a spokesperson for the organizing student group, said Sunday.

Participating groups will also voice support for 19 political dissidents jailed by the Chinese government, including Chinese literary critic and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, human rights lawyer Guo Feixiong, professor Hao Jian and Tibetan writer Dolma Kyab, he said.

Chou said his group hopes to expand its support for political prisoners this year, especially since China has recently jailed scores of human rights activists prior to the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

"We hope to draw a larger crowd this year to show the Chinese government that it is impossible to silence the people with state violence," Chou told CNA. "If the Chinese people are silenced, we will speak for them."

At the gathering, groups will also call on the Taiwanese government to make human rights protection a "precondition" for Taiwan-China exchanges and use this opportunity to reflect on the human rights condition in Taiwan, Chou said.

Chen Wei-ting and Wei Yang, key figures of the student-led Sunflower Movement in Taiwan, are also scheduled to address the crowd, he added.

Chou said his group hopes to join forces with the Sunflower Movement, as leaders of the movement have also been outspoken about the Tiananmen Square massacre, commonly known as the June Fourth Incident, in Chinese.

The Sunflower Movement refers to the series of protests organized by a coalition of students and civic groups, held from March 18 to April 10, to protest a Taiwan-China service trade pact.

People are urged to wear black clothing to the Taipei vigil, which is jointly organized by the student group, New School for Democracy and Taiwan Association for China Human Rights.

The Tiananmen Massacre remains a taboo subject in China.

After weeks of pro-democracy protests in 1989, Chinese troops and tanks fired on civilians at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on June 4. Estimates of the death toll range from several hundreds to thousands.

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