Wednesday, July 23, 2014   




Healing in the rain

Mary Ma

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

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Though nearly a quarter of a century has passed, a large number of people still turned out for the June 4 candlelight vigil at Victoria Park last night.

It was impressive. Rain and thunderstorms failed to deter them from filling the football pitches. It's reminiscent of the movement here in the runup to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Tens of thousands of people defied rain and wind of typhoon strength to march from Victoria Park to the Xinhua News Agency, then the de facto representative of Beijing, in Happy Valley.

The June 4 event resides deeply still in the hearts of many people. While the commemoration this year was marred by controversy over the choice of slogans, it's clear that the common wish of the people is for Beijing to change its official stance on the crackdown.

In Washington, a congressional committee on foreign affairs held a special hearing on the crackdown. Exiled Tiananmen activists Chai Ling, Yang Jianli and Wei Jingsheng were invited to testify before members of Congress. It must be said that hearing as such has become ceremonial rather than substantial.

Chai, now a Christian, offered what she called a message of hope through Jesus. She urged US President Barack Obama to press his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to reverse the official stance on the student movement in 1989.

Wei offered something different, saying he would not be able to see reparations for the June 4 crackdown until the collapse of the communist government in Beijing.

What did Wei say exactly? In his view, it isn't the most urgent problem for Beijing. For the time being, Beijing does not have the motivation to solve the problem.

"Accountability for the guilty and reparations for the June 4 massacre may have to wait until the collapse of the communist regime in China," Wei is reported to have said.

I don't have a crystal ball to tell me whether Wei's prophecy is correct. For it is doubtful whether the situation will still be same 50 or 100 years from now. Nobody can say this for sure. But could Wei be unnecessarily pessimistic?

He should know that there are different factions within the Chinese Communist Party.

Some party members have been waiting for an opportune moment to heal the wounds. There are a number of ways. In other countries, there were examples in which victims were compensated for their suffering. Can a similar approach be adopted for the June 4 crackdown? Can there be other alternatives suitable for the mainland situation?

For some, that time is not yet right. There's still resistance from within the party.

Maybe this is the balance currently challenging Xi's new leadership.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China is facing a challenge of another kind. As 150,000 people gathered at Victoria Park to mourn the past, about 200 youngsters held a separate vigil in Tsim Sha Tsui. A small group also held a barbecue outside the central government liaison office.

Times have changed. So have members of the younger generation. If alliance chairman Lee Cheuk-yan's retreat after first standing up to Tiananmen Mothers leader Ding Zilin over the "Love the Country" slogan showed the alliance has lost its footing, it will have to come up with a more acceptable approach before the next June 4 vigil.


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