Monday, March 24, 2008

4th June 1989- unfinished business ?

The protests that seem to be building around the world over Tibet in the run up to the Olympics should also be a reminder of the wider context of the Chinese human rights record.

Few better examples exist than when the "People's Liberation Army" cleared Tiananmen Square of pro-democracy demonstrators in June 1989 using the most brutal of means. The death toll of this exercise ranges in estimate from several hundred to two or three thousand.

Below is a slide show of photos from those protests and the clamp down on June 4th 1989 set to the music of John Williams' "Hymn to the Fallen".

It starts with a sense of hope as the mainly student protestors gather in the square. A professor character is to be seen with a megaphone. Various students speak out publicly for the first time. The iconic "unknown rebel" briefly stops a column of tanks holding nothing more than two carrier bags.

Then the mood darkens as the early stand offs with the military begin. Eventually the one sided battle starts with students fighting bravely but against tanks and bullets with little hope of success.

It ends with tragic scenes of the aftermath and the plea that this should never be forgotten.

Despite the world's corporations falling over themselves to become established in this emerging superpower, recent events leave me with a sense that some business remains unfinished in China.

While the economy goes from strenth to strength the ordinary Chinese are politically controlled almost the same as ever. Surely eventually this disconnect may come to the surface and require addressing ? There has been no reckoning with the past by China and therefore it cannot ultimately move on until this happens.

This moving compilation by a youtube user (Alonsolegend) is a reminder that human rights concerns in China are about so much more than Tibet and more specifically about a group of students who dared to stand up for freedom in the early summer of 1989, who failed so tragically but who freedom loving people everywhere should never forget.

To the heroes of Tiananmen..................

The music does add to this short film so watching with the sound on is recommended. It is 6 minutes long but I can recommend watching it all).


Anonymous said...

inspiring film

cw-patriot said...

Very well said, as always, Luis.

Thank you for focusing on this issue. Too many in the media are choosing to downplay it or ignore it altogether.

~ joanie

Luis said...

Thank you Joanie.

It is disappointing that the consensus amongst most of the "great powers" is not to rock the boat on this issue.

While I think one has to be realistic about China, I do feel this is illustrative of the wider lack of freedom in China. This is about more than just a small nation of people, albeit one that seems to have suffered much under Chinese rule. It is about the general lack of political freedom for all Chinese which in reality seems to have impreoved little since 1989.

When I visted Macau in late 2006, I witnessed a plain clothes police operation to clear a public area and cart away a group of people giving out free newspapers critical of the government. Macau is supposed to enjoy some independence along the lines of Hong Kong and is relatively free compared to mainland China. I can therefore only imagine what the rest of China is like.

There is no obvious solution but I think the Olympics is an opportunity to express at least some reservations about the lack of freedom in this vast and populous country.