By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 30 May 2019
However hard China may try to cover up the pro-democracy protests in 1989 in which the Chinese military killed thousands of people, activists are making sure that the event is remembered.
In the run-up to mark the 30th anniversary of the protests and the subsequent killings on 4 June 1989, in what has become to be known as the ‘Tiananmen Democracy Movement’ in the heart of Beijing, Tibetan and Chinese activists spoke on various aspects of the historic event.
In mid-1989, student-led demonstrations in the heart of Beijing at Tiananmen Square were met with the horrors of the Chinese government’s brutality. The demonstrations were suppressed violently, with armed forces firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters and killing thousands of people. Common estimates of the number of people killed is about 3,000, but some accounts put that figure to at least 10,000.
A symposium ‘China After 30 Years of Tiananmen Massacre’ was held in the exile Tibetan capital of McLeod Ganj, which paid homage to the people who sacrificed their lives for the cause of bringing democracy and freedom in China, and raised voices for continued struggle to achieve those goals.
Tibetan activist and writer Tenzin Tsundue said, “We want to send this message of solidarity to the Chinese people, and we want to say that we are with you in the fight for democracy and freedom, but we also seek your support for the freedom of our country.”
He added, “Freedom movements always take time to come to fruition, to complete results. Tiananmen Square happened 30 years ago, but we know that there is a memory of a freedom movement in China, and they always want, imagine, a more free and democratic China tomorrow.
“We respect the Chinese people’s desire for a democratic China for the future. At the same time we have to make that possible with the process and continued efforts.”
Chinese human rights lawyer and activist, Teng Biao, said, “I explained how the Chinese government went from from “1989 Tiananmen Massacre” to … “1984”. After the Tiananmen massacre by the Chinese government, for the protests for freedom and democracy, the Western countries, instead of doing something to stop China from expanding, adopted an appeasement policy, and didn’t care about human rights, democracy and freedom. China in essence has become a major threat to global human rights and freedom and democracy.”
He continued, “The Chinese government is trying its best to eliminate the memory of Tiananmen massacre, they try to brainwash the Chinese people, and they don’t want Chinese people to know the truth, to pursue democracy and freedom. But Chinese people will not stop fighting for democracy. Some people preserve the memory of Tiananmen, and they will continue, the courage and the desire for people represented by the Tank Man.”
Tendor, Senior Researcher and Strategist at Tibet Action Institute and former Executive Director of Students For a Free Tibet, said that China has become an ’empire’, a force that needs to be checked.
Chemi Lhamo, President of Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU), University of Toronto, and SFT Canada Board member, called for the youth to come together and rise up and resist the tyranny of China.
Lhamo become a subject of global politics after she was elected President of SCSU in February. She started getting hate mails to threats of violence because of her Tibetan heritage. She blamed the Chinese government of mobilising Chinese students against her, and infiltrating in the Canadian universities.
Another speaker, a Tibetan activist from Taiwan, Tashi Tsering, the President of Human Rights Network for Tibet and Taiwan, also spoke on the occasion expressing the need for people to unite and stand up against the Chinese government.
The event was moderated by Dorjee Tseten, the Executive Director of SFT and member of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, and was organised by SFT and International Tibet Network.