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Remember Today, 1989, in Tiananmen Square!


SOLO-International Op-Ed: Remember Today, 1989, in Tiananmen Square!

By Scott Wilson

June 4, 2008

19 years ago it was, and I was 19 years old when it happened.

I was, after all, a university student at the time, and it could have been me gunned down, or arrested, for arguing for free speech. China has moved on in many ways since then, but it still keeps a tight rein on free speech. It has incorporated Hong Kong, a beautiful vibrant world city of trade, freedom, commerce and culture—look there China, spread what Hong Kong has to all of China. Look at Taiwan—it has much the same and thrives.

So today, spare a moment to remember the last moment some Chinese people stood up for the simple right of freedom of expression, when China looked as if it might make the step of separating party and state—an essential prerequisite to fight corruption and establish rule of law. It's not anti-China, it's as pro-China as one can be—it believes the Chinese people can make choices to rule their own lives and express themselves, without fear of saying as they wish, and without fear of what they may say. Go on China—the USA and Japan can do it, South Korea can do it, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan can do it. The only people who should be afraid are those who fear criticism and cannot respond creditably. Even people in Hong Kong can march against what happened in Tiananmen Square.

Meanwhile, China Radio International (the successor to Radio Beijing) wont be repeating this broadcast today. This was what was said, before freedom was snuffed out in the Chinese state media within a day of this broadcast:

"Please remember June the Third, 1989. The most tragic event happened in the Chinese Capital, Beijing. Thousands of people, most of them innocent civilians, were killed by fully-armed soldiers when they forced their way into the city. Among the killed are our colleagues at Radio Beijing. The soldiers were riding on armored vehicles and used machine guns against thousands of local residents and students who tried to block their way. When the army conveys made the breakthrough, soldiers continued to spray their bullets indiscriminately at crowds in the street. Eyewitnesses say some armored vehicles even crushed foot soldiers who hesitated in front of the resisting civilians. [The] Radio Beijing English Department deeply mourns those who died in the tragic incident and appeals to all its listeners to join our protest for the gross violation of human rights and the most barbarous suppression of the people."

China seems more open to debate nowadays, so I call you to go to China Radio International's website http://english.cri.cn/ [1] and ask why it doesn't discuss the events of June 4, 1989. Do so politely; there is a form in the bottom right hand corner. Even if it is not published, someone will be reading it, and do so supporting the rights of Chinese people to speak freely. Only they can free their country. It has come quite some way even since 1989, but it won't be free until they can express political views without fearing imprisonment or execution. Hong Kong is China's great example—let it be the centre for freedom to flourish throughout that great country.


ENDS

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