Can June 4th Be Forgotten?

My translation of the essay:-

“’The bullet holes of that year have gradually disappeared. The bloodstains of that year have gradually been wiped clean. Everything seems to have returned to normal before our eyes. But right in front of us is this name list, which has retained the numerous bullet marks left by those who ordered the killings and the bloodstains of those who died. Please do not just flip the name list over. Please do not hastily cover up the wounds on our bodies. Because we have paid too much. We can’t afford to pay more.’

The above was what the families of the June 4th victims said at the 10th anniversary. They

were concerned that with the passage of time and with the changes taking place in society that people would become insensitive to the tragedy that had happened. They were worried that people’s aspiration for democracy would be worn out. They feared that the autocratic government would succeed in glossing over the historic truth.

It has been 19 years now since the June 4th suppression. The families of the victims have repeated the above message in the newly set up ‘Tiananmen Mothers’ website. The problem is that they have become even more worried and more concerned than nine years ago. And they have good reasons too. Nineteen years of information blockage have made a lot of people, especially the younger generation, forget about this painful episode. Nineteen years of cosmetic makeover have rendered the truth blurry in people’s minds. Nineteen years of oppression have muffled the voices of the victims’ families.

In order to avoid forgetting the painful history, and to remind all people, in particular the mainland youths, not to abandon the June 4th victims, and in order to prevent those in power from twisting or altering the truth, today we must hold up our candles, and we must insist on standing with the June 4th victims and the Tiananmen Mothers.

We must do this because even as of today the Chinese government, despite China having become the world’s fourth largest economy, has refused to do the right thing and admit its fault. It has even refused to let the families of the victims openly commemorate the dead. It has refused to have any dialogue with the Tiananmen Mothers. This has made it impossible for the families to seek redress or vindication. Faced with such heartless high-handedness and such detestable approach, we cannot but say ‘no’ with the candles in our hands. We cannot but stand firmly with the Tiananmen Mothers, so that they don’t feel destitute and excluded.

We must do this because in these past nineteen years the Chinese government’s repressive governance has not changed. It is still playing deaf and dumb to demands for democracy. Civil rights are still not protected. Let’s take the Hu Jia case. All he did was to give an interview to an overseas news medium and to write an online essay about his theory that there’s no need for ‘two systems’ under ‘one country’. For such action he was charged with subversion and sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. Other human rights activists and lawyers have faced the same kind of oppression and repressive imprisonment. Some were sentenced to prison, some lost their lawyer’s license, and some were put under house arrest. As for censorship of speech, closing down of websites and censoring online discussion, it is an omnipresent phenomenon. A few days ago, the Tiananmen Mothers set up a website in order to let people including mainlanders know about their pain and to tell the truth about June 4th. The website was closed down by the government after only three hours of operation, so that its contents became off limits to people in the mainland.

In the face of such odious human rights records, and such recalcitrant attitude towards people’s demands for democracy, how can we remain silent, how can we not say ‘no’ with a firm voice?

The Tiananmen Mothers said this four years ago: ‘A system that depends on lies and deception for its survival should be cursed. But if we want to change such a system, we must have a tenacious power of reasoning. One most effective way to deal with such a system is for more and more people to come out and speak the truth.’

Today, let us light up our candles, show our unyielding power of reasoning and insist on having the truth about June 4th.”