- 關於展覽：「六四屠殺三十周年『記憶．公義．希望』」Memory. Justice. Hope -The 30th anniversary of the June 4 massacre
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- 相片：由建政到「六四」屠殺 Photos: From The Inception Of Communist Rule To The June 4th Massacre
六四屠殺三十周年「記憶．公義．希望」Memory. Justice. Hope -The 30th anniversary of the June 4 massacre
- 六四死難者 The “June 4th” Victims
- 中共的定性 Position of The Chinese Government
- 傷亡數字 — 你會相信誰﹖Numbers of Casualties — Who Do You Believe?
- 維園燭海 Sea Of Candlelight In Victoria Park
- 海外支運 Democracy Movement In Overseas
- 民間見證及堅持 The People Bear Witness and Persist
- 組黨運動 The Formation of Independent Political Parties
- 憲章運動 The Charter Movements
- 新公民運動 The New Citizens’ Movement
- 維權運動 The Rights Defence Movement基層民運 Grassroots Democracy
- 反人大釋法 Protesting The Interpretation of The Basic Law by The National People’s Congress Standing Committee
- 反《23》條惡法 The March Against Article 23 Legislation
- 反洗腦運動 The Anti-National Education Movement
- 反暴力撐新聞自由 Defending Freedom of The Press and Opposing Attacks on It
- 「七一」遊行 The July 1st March
- 雨傘運動 The Umbrella Movement
- 爭取平反•正視歷史 Vindication and Reveal the Past
- 南韓「光州事件」Gwangju Incident, South Korea
- 台灣「二二八事件」“February 28th Incident” in Taiwan
- 南非 South Africa
- 「蘇東波」(蘇聯、東歐改革浪潮)Wave of reforms in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe
- 茉莉花革命／阿拉伯之春Jasmine Revolution / Arab Spring
「六四」鎮壓 The “June 4th” Crackdown
From 10 p.m. on June 3rd, tanks and armored vehicles of the Martial Law Forces drove through roadblocks, ran over citizens who had linked arms to form human chains, and eventually entered Tiananmen Square to put down the democracy movement.
The troops inflicted heavy casualties at the Muxidi, Fuxingmen, Lubuhou and Jianguomen intersections along Changan Avenue. Many brave citizens risked their lives to rescue injured students and other citizens.
Near daybreak on June 4th, troops entered Tiananmen Square and cleared obstacles. Students and citizens were forced to withdraw. The Goddess of Democracy was demolished by a tank.
Troops continued to open fire on citizens throughout the morning and afternoon of June 4th. There were numerous casualties. Some victims were killed by “expanding bullets”, which exploded upon entering the body. Such bullets were prohibited under international law.
六四死難者 The “June 4th” Victims
In the list of victims collected by the Tiananmen Mothers Group, this long night has them:
Wu Guofeng, a 21-year-old student at Renmin University of China, not only the lower abdomen of whose was pierced by a bayonet, but also was shot several times. Duan Changlong, a 24-year-old student of Tsinghua University. When he saw the military troops encountering the people hostilely, he tried to intervene and helped resolving the confrontation, but only ended in himself being ruthlessly killed. Wang Weiping, a 25-year-old intern, bravely joined the rescuing team to save people’s life. When she bandaged the wounded, she just looked up slightly but got hit by a bullet in her neck. She just fell down and didn’t even leave a single word. Ma Chengfen, a veteran female soldier, did not imagine that the army was shooting at people ruthlessly at the alley, and was shot dead when she was just chatting with people downstairs of her house.
During June 4th, Jiang Yanyong served as a surgeon at the People’s Liberation Army 301 Hospital. He described what happened that night: “After a burst of gunfire, so many young people were injured. They were sent to the emergency room on wooden trolleys or tricycles by people who happened at the scene. Over a two-hour period from 10 o’clock to midnight, our hospital’s emergency room received 89 patients injured by bullets, including seven who died. The doctors divided themselves into three groups in 18 operating rooms to perform operations through the night in order to save whoever it was possible to save.”
On June 4th, 200,000 people in Hong Kong, dressed in black, took part in a sit-in protest organized by Hong Kong Alliance at Happy Valley to mourn the deaths in Beijing. Similar protests and ceremonies took place all over the world.
On June 5th, troops were still stationed in Tiananmen Square. A young man, identified as Wang Weilin, blocked the advance of a column of tanks on Changan Avenue. He even climbed up onto the turret of the lead tank but was finally pulled aside by a group of bystanders.
On June 5th, a large number of tanks were still deployed in Tiananmen Square and Beijing was pervaded by terror. Many countries chartered flights to evacuate their citizens. Lee Cheuk-Yan, who went to Beijing on behalf of Hong Kong Alliance, was arrested by Public Security officers as he was about to board a plane back to Hong Kong. Though he was allowed to return on June 8th after having been detained for three days, the donations of Hong Kong people which he had gone to Beijing to deliver were confiscated by the Chinese government.
On June 6th, State Council Spokesperson Yuan Mu and General of Martial Law Forces Zhang Gong explained the clearance action in a press conference.
The Ministry of Public Security issued the order, “Resolutely Suppress Counter-Revolutionary Riots, Quell Social Turmoil” for the mass arrest of “rioters” across the country. It also ordered the arrest of the scholar Fang Lizhi and his wife Li Shuzhen.
On June 13th, an order was issued for the arrest of 21 students of the Beijing Students’ Autonomous Federation identified as movement leaders. The most wanted list included Wang Dan, Wuer Kaixi, Liu Gang, and Chai Ling.
Mass arrests were carried out. Many were summarily tried. By the end of June, at least 27 people had been executed. By July, at least 5,000 were under arrest.
“Operation Yellowbird” commenced in late June. It was financed by donations from Hong Kong people in various sectors. Hong Kong people risked their lives to help about 400 activists to escape arrest by the Chinese government. The operation continued right up until before the handover of Hong Kong in 1997.
中共的定性 Position of The Chinese Government
On June 9th, Deng Xiaoping, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, met with Martial Law Forces and labelled the democracy demonstrations a “counter-revolutionary rebellion”. He praised the army for quelling it.
On June 30th, Chen Xitong, then Mayor of Beijing, delivered his “Report on Quelling Turmoil and Suppressing Counter-Revolutionary Rebellion” to a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. He characterized the demonstrations as consisting of “a very small number of people taking advantage of students to instigate planned, organized and premeditated political turmoil, which then developed into counter-revolutionary rebellion in Beijing.” Later on, the central government adopted a uniform phrase, referring to the demonstrations as “political turmoil between the spring and summer of 1989” or “political turmoil between the spring and summer in the late 1980s”.
In 2018, in addition to the phrase, “political turmoil”, “counter-revolutionary rebellion” reappeared in the special feature, called “Major Events of Reform and Opening”, was prepared for the newspaper by the Central Institute for Party History and Literature Research: “Between the spring and summer, political turmoil occurred in Beijing and other cities. The Party and the Government with the support of the citizens took a clear-cut stand against the turmoil and quelled the counter-revolutionary riots in Beijing…”.
June 4th has always been taboo in China. Top officials have at various times expressed opinions and assessments. Some of the main decision-makers have published books downplaying their roles. Li Peng, the former Premier, published Li Peng’s Diary of June 4th (originally named The Crucial Moment) to defend himself, while Chen Xitong, then Mayor of Beijing, characterized himself in his memoirs as only a puppet.
傷亡數字 — 你會相信誰﹖Numbers of Casualties — Who Do You Believe?
On June 6th, in a press conference held by State Council Spokesperson Yuan Mu and Major General of the Martial Law Forces Zheng Gong, Yuan said that some 5,000 soldiers along with 2,000 citizens, including those whom he described as “ruffians”, were wounded, and around 300 died, of whom 23 were university students. The others included soldiers and the ruffians who “deserved retribution”. Zhang Gong claimed that not a student or citizen was killed in the square that night, nor was anyone wounded or run over by armored vehicles or tanks.
The Chinese Red Cross announced a death toll of between 2,600 and 3,000. As of March 2019, The Tiananmen Mothers have confirmed 204 fatalities. The British government declassified files revealing that the 27th Group Army fired directly at crowds including citizens and other soldiers. Armored vehicles repeatedly ran over corpses. Bodies were cleared away by bulldozers. It estimated civilian fatalities at 10,000 or more.
The U.S. White House declassified files revealing an estimate of 40,000 casualties in all, of which 10,454 were killed. The Canadian Foreign Affairs Ministry declassified a letter stating that on June 4th and 5th Chinese troops brutally suppressed unarmed protesters in Beijing. It estimated 1,000 to 3,000 civilian deaths, with a far greater number of injuries.
Many times, Hong Kong people rallied in the streets, in the face of
wind, rain and even typhoon. We supported the Beijing democracy
movement, regardless of our political views, whether left, right or
neutral. Some even ventured north to assist. Hong Kong journalists
bravely reported the latest news on the democracy movement from the
frontlines. Many Hong Kong people were witnesses and participants in
this historical event. After the suppression of the democracy movement
in China, Hong Kong Alliance has worked side by side with all groups and
people concerned about democracy and human rights in China in order to
pass on the torch of democracy and keep it alive. In addition, we strive
to vindicate “June 4th”, to support Chinese civil society and human
rights activists, and to pursue the founding of a democratic and
1. 5月15日，學聯在香港新華社門前絕食。On May 15th, members of the Hong Kong Federation of Students began a hunger strike in front of the Xinhua News Agency in Hong Kong.
2. 5月20日，香港市民手心相連，4萬多人在8號風球高懸下上街示威。On May 20th, more than 40,000 Hong Kong people held hands and rallied in the streets during a typhoon.
3. 5月21日，「香港市民支援愛國民主運動聯合會」（支聯會）成立，司徒華任主席。On May 21st, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China was founded and Mr. Szeto Wah was elected Chairman.
4. 5月21日，《文匯報》社論開天窗，抗議北京戒嚴。On May 21st, Wen Wei Po published a blank editorial to protest the declaration of martial law in Beijing.
5. 5月26日，約20萬青年冒雨在維園集會。On May 26th, about 200,000 young people protested in Victoria Park in the rain.
6. 5月28日，香港百萬人大遊行，東區走廊上浩浩蕩蕩的遊行隊伍。On May 28th, million people parade marched grandiosely on the Island Eastern Corridor in Hong Kong.
維園燭海 Sea Of Candlelight In Victoria Park
Every year on the evening of June 4th, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people gather in Victoria Park, rain or shine. We light candles to mourn the souls of the dead and call on people of conscience to bear witness. This has been the biggest “June 4th” commemorative event anywhere in the World, whether in territory under Chinese Communist Party rule or overseas. More and more people from China visit Hong Kong to take part in the candlelight vigil.
“June 4th” victim, Fang Zheng, whose legs were crushed by a tank, described the Victoria Park candlelight vigil as “the power to pierce the darkness and the light to illuminate conscience.”
海外支運 Democracy Movement In Overseas
The “June 4th” also resonates and affects the hearts of all Chinese in overseas and people around the World altogether to pursuit the freedom and democracy for China. They hold demonstrations and condemn oppression. The picture above shows where demonstrations in cities of more than 1,000 people have occurred around the World.
To this day, enthusiastic overseas support for the democracy movement in China has not diminished. “June 4th” commemorative events have been organized every year in Vancouver and Toronto, Canada; Paris, France; London, U.K.; Washington, San Francisco, New York, Boston and Los Angeles, U.S.A.; Frankfurt, Germany; Sydney, Australia, and other cities.
Replicas of the “Goddess of Democracy” statue have been erected on university campuses in Hong Kong, including Chinese University, City University, Baptist University and Polytechnic University (“Pillar of Shame” was erected in Hong Kong University, and an embossed collage about “June 4th Massacre” was created in Lingnan University). Many more have appeared overseas, including at the University of Vancouver in Canada and Portsmouth Square in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Created by sculptor Chen Weiming, the World’s largest monument to the “1989 Tiananmen Massacre” was unveiled in the United States on February 23rd, 2019. The number ‘64’ on the sculpture represents the massacre which took place on June 4th, 1989. It is located next to Interstate Fwy. 15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
民間見證及堅持 The People Bear Witness and Persist
The Chinese government has repeatedly suppressed any open discussion and attempted to distort and cover up the truth. But authoritarianism has not stopped people from bearing public witness, insisting on the truth, and calling for justice.
“Tiananmen Mothers” Group
“Tiananmen Mothers” is a group of victims and survivors of “June 4th”, Ding Zilin as one of the founders of the group, has sought out “June 4th” victims and compiled a list of them. As of March 2019, the group has recorded the names of 204 victims and told the stories of how they lost their lives. It has been a constant challenge to preserve evidence of the crimes committed by the Chinese Communist Party, a regime intent on denying that killings of peaceful demonstrators and innocent citizens ever occurred. Over the years, the “Tiananmen Mothers” have reiterated to the authorities their three basic demands: truth, compensation, and accountability. Most of the “Tiananmen Mothers” are now in their seventies or eighties. Their greatest wish is to see justice for their children and their loved ones in their lifetime. As of April 2019, 56 members of the group have passed away.
Dr. Jiang Yanyong
The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak of 2003 is still fresh in the memory of many Hong Kong people. The first to expose the Beijing SARS epidemic was the surgeon Jiang Yanyong who served in the 301 Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army. In 2004, he wrote to the national leadership asking it to rectify its verdict on “June 4th”. Soon after, he was placed under house arrest and silenced. During the annual plenary sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in 2019, he again wrote a petition to the nation’s leadership and asked for rectification of its verdict on “June 4th”.
Army Commander Xu Qinxian
During martial law, the commander of the 38th Group Army, Xu Qinxian, refused to lead his troops into Beijing to suppress the students. He was court-martialled, sentenced to five years in prison, and expelled from the Communist Party. During his trial, it is said that he told the court, “There was no precedent of the People’s Army suppressing the people. I refused to stain this historical record.” In recent years, several soldiers have spoken out about the crackdown. Shandong veteran Zhang Shijun petitioned publicly to vindicate “June 4th”. He felt regret for having participated in the massacre. Li Xiaoming, a former radar stationmaster in the 39th Group Army, also publicly condemned the “June 4th Massacre”.
Remain True To Our Original Aspiration And Stand Up Against On-Going Repression
In China, people can be threatened and imprisoned for doing anything related to “June 4th”. Recent cases include official retribution for distributing a “June 4th” flyer, posting banners commemorating “June 4th”, organizing seminars and prayer meetings, dressing in clothes with the words “June 4th”, publishing related articles, visiting the graves of “June 4th” victims, and producing liquor with the name “Eight Liquor Six Four” (a homophone for 89/6/4, the date of the massacre) on the label. At great risk, many Chinese still strive to commemorate “June 4th” every year, sending the message to the regime that the people will never forget.
Decades Of Imprisonment Over “June 4th”
- Miao Deshun, imprisoned for 27 years, the last “June 4th” prisoner;
- Li Yujun, imprisoned for 23 years for trying to stop martial law troops from entering Beijing;
- Zhu Gengsheng, imprisoned for 22 years for trying to stop martial law troops from entering Beijing;
- Xu Wanping, imprisoned twice for a total of 20 years.
The Civil Rights Movement Leader Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The fate of Hong Kong is closely related to that of China. If there is no political reform, democracy or human rights in China, the sword of Damocles will forever hang over the heads of Hong Kong people.
A survey of history shows achieving justice is never easy. It only comes through unrelenting struggle. In China, after the “June 4th Massacre”, many people with noble goals have continued to seek democracy and justice, persevering on the path of righteousness. “The Rights Defence Movement” began in 2003. In the same year, 500,000 Hong Kong people marched against proposed draconian “Article 23” National Security Legislation meant to bring Hong Kong into line with China, thus opening a new chapter in the Hong Kong democracy movement.
組黨運動 The Formation of Independent Political Parties
In order to maintain one-party dictatorship, the Chinese Communist Party has always banned any independent political party. Shortly after “June 4th”, a group of people took great with the aim of continuing the resistance of the “1989 Democracy Movement”. In 1991, Hu Shigen, Kang Yuchun and Liu Jingsheng, together with others, secretly organized “The China Free Democratic Party”, “The Progressive Alliance of China”, “The China Free Labor Union Preparatory Committee” and other groups. They circulated leaflets to advocate freedom and democracy and criticized authoritarian rule. In 1998, several parties were formed. Zhejiang democracy activists took the lead, attempting to register “The China Democracy Party.” They were followed by other activists in other provinces and cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shandong, Hubei and Sichuan. In both 1991 and 1998, the participants paid a heavy price. Among them, Hu Shigen, Qin Yongmin, Chen Xi were arrested many times and are still in prison.
憲章運動 The Charter Movements
“The Constitution” is the foundation of a country. The Communist Party’s political power is based on the fact that “China has many laws but no rule of law; it has a constitution but no constitutional government.” Democracy activists have addressed this issue by proposing reforms to the constitution and working toward constitutional democracy. In 1993, Qin Yongmin, Liu Nianchun and others launched “The Peace Charter Movement”, calling for the protection of freedoms of speech, press, assembly and association, which are all constitutional rights. In 2008, Zhang Zuhua, Liu Xiaobo and others drafted “Charter 08”, reaffirming 6 fundamental principles (freedom, human rights, equality, republicanism, democracy, and constitutional rule) and advocating 19 specific principles (including an independent judiciary, giving the government rather than the Party authorities over the armed forces, and democratic elections). It proposed a transitional path of constitutional reform in a gradual, peaceful, orderly, and stable manner. Thousands put their names to the charter as joint signatories. Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison, eventually dying in state custody.
新公民運動 The New Citizens’ Movement
Despite the crackdowns on the Charter Movements, people’s desire for constitutional democracy was unquenched. In 2012, Xu Zhiyong published an article called “China’s New Citizens’ Movement.” He advocated gradual reforms leading to constitutional governance and the necessity of Chinese making the transition from subjects to citizens, both in a peaceful manner. As part of the movement, citizens demanded that government officials disclose their wealth. Anti-corruption banners were posted in various city centers. These actions met an enthusiastic response. Movement leaders Xu Zhiyong and Wang Gongquan were arrested in 2013, but the New Citizens Movement’s core principles of “freedom, justice and love” have been imprinted in many people’s hearts.
維權運動 The Rights Defence Movement
“The Rights Defence Movement” is widely understood to have begun in 2003 with the landmark case of Sun Zhigang. Sun was a young university graduate from Hubei who died in Guangdong as a result of physical abuse suffered at the hands of authorities while detained under the Custody and Repatriation system, which restricted Chinese people’s “Freedom of Movement”. Three law students appealed to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to review “Custody and Repatriation”, leading to the abolition of the system. After this, a network of so-called rights defence lawyers gradually emerged and became active defending victims of rights abuses all over the country.
The rise of the internet fostered the development of the Rights Defence Movement. In 1999, Huang Qi set up the Tianwang Center for missing persons. He posted many sensitive documents online and became regarded as a pioneer of civil society in cyberspace. Through the internet, the culture of the Rights Defence Movement spread. In 2011, netizens called on citizens across the country to go out and “walk and smile” together in the street at the same time in a sly echo of the Jasmine Revolution in North Africa. After the mass arrests of rights defence lawyers in 2015, referred to as the “709” crackdown, their wives organized many actions to bring attention to their husbands’ cases.
基層民運 Grassroots Democracy
Since the “June 4th Massacre”, two movements for grassroots democracy have received particular attention. Both involved peasants and villagers fighting against land confiscations and forced demolitions ordered by corrupt officials and for their right to elect their own local government. In 2005, the villagers of Taishi Village in Guangdong challenged the corruption of the village committee and initiated a legal process to recall officials to trigger a new election. The government used violence to crack down on them, but the villagers eventually succeeded in electing their own village representatives. They soon were forced to resign under tremendous pressure. In 2011, the sale of farmland by the village committee of Wukan Village in Guangdong provoked a tenacious response by villagers. First, they petitioned higher authorities without result. Then they occupied the village committee headquarters and organized their own “temporary representative council”. This lead to a confrontation between police and villagers that lasted one hundred days. At last, the government recognized the council, and in the following year, villagers freely elected members of the village committee. However, the occupied land was never recovered, and leaders of the uprising were eventually imprisoned or forced to flee.
反倒退 Defending Hong Kong
Since the Sino-British negotiations over the status of Hong Kong in the 1980s, Hong Kong people have been fighting for democracy. But universal suffrage has yet to be realized. In the meantime, rule of law and human rights have deteriorated. Under authoritarian rule, the road to democracy is getting harder and harder. For decades, Hong Kong people have fought to retain the rights and freedoms they already possess and have continually resisted authoritarian imposition.
反人大釋法 Protesting The Interpretation of The Basic Law by The National People’s Congress Standing Committee
The “Basic Law” is Hong Kong’s mini-constitution. Since the handover in 1997, the NPCSC has interpreted the “Basic Law” five times. Four interventions (Right of Abode in 1999, the Methods for Selecting the Chief Executive and for Forming the Legislative Council in 2004, the Terms of the Chief Executive By-election in 2005, and Legislative Council Oath-taking in 2016) have seriously damaged Hong Kong’s judicial system and democratic development. In November 2016, more than 10,000 people marched to protest against the interpretation of the “Basic Law” on oath-taking. Lawyers organized their own silent march dressed all in black.
反《23》條惡法 The March Against Article 23 Legislation
On July 1st, 2003 more than 500,000 people took to the streets in the biggest demonstration in Hong Kong since the million-people protests in support of China’s democracy movement in 1989. They succeeded in forcing the government to withdraw its “National Security Bill” to implement “Article 23” of the “Basic Law”. This also lead to Hong Kong’s first Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa stepping down. “Article 23” provides guidance on national security in Hong Kong in relation to matters such as treason, inciting subversion of state power, subversion, and theft of state secrets. Its imminent implementation threatened Hong Kong people’s rights and freedoms. The march was a watershed in the development of Hong Kong civil society. A new generation of activists arose. Local movements to protect the Star Ferry Pier and Queen’s Pier and to oppose the express rail link with China as well as others emerged. The Chinese government fears the growth of civil society and has tightened control over Hong Kong.
反洗腦運動 The Anti-National Education Movement
In 2012, the government made moves to introduce a new subject, “Moral and National Education”, in the school curriculum. The content was considered by many to be a form of indoctrination or brainwashing. Lead by Scholarism and the National Education Parents’ Concern Group, a movement against “National Education” arose, eventually resulting in 90,000 demonstrators surrounding government headquarters. The government announced it would not be mandatory for schools to teach the subject. The Anti-National Education Movement resonated so widely in Hong Kong and gained great popular support because the issue was seen as having to do with Hong Kong’s core values, in this case, freedom of thought.
反暴力撐新聞自由 Defending Freedom of The Press and Opposing Attacks on It
近年香港新聞自由屢受衝擊，最震撼的是2014年《明報》前總編輯劉進圖在光天化日下、於鬧市遭狂斬6刀。同年3月2日，1.3萬名市民參加遊行，怒吼「反暴力，緝真兇，保法治」，敦促警方捉拿兇徒歸案。參與遊行的人統一穿著黑衣，拉着「They can’t kill us all」的巨型橫幅，反對任何威脅媒體的暴力，讓港人擁有免於恐懼的自由，擁有多元化言論自由的空間。
In recent years, Hong Kong’s press freedom has significantly deteriorated. In 2014, Kevin Lau, the former editor-in-chief of Ming Pao, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent newspapers, was attacked with a cleaver on the street in broad daylight. 13,000 people protested against the attack, which was considered a frontal assault on freedom of the press and a challenge to rule of law. Protesters dressed in black and held aloft a giant banner saying, “They can’t kill us all.” The protest articulated the desire of Hong Kong people to live in a pluralistic society free from fear.
爭民主 The Struggle for Democracy
「七一」遊行 The July 1st March
On July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong was handed by Great Britain over to China. On that day and every July 1st since, Hong Kong people have marched for democracy. In 1997, about 3,000 people joined Hong Kong Alliance in marching under the banner, “Love the Country, Hong Kong and Democracy.” Since then, the march has consistently drawn huge crowds, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands. The exact theme of the march changes from year to year.
雨傘運動 The Umbrella Movement
2014 was a crucial year in the history of the Hong Kong democracy movement. At the end of June, 800,000 Hong Kong people voted overwhelmingly for genuine universal suffrage in a civil referendum. On September 22nd, a week-long student strike for universal suffrage was held. On September 28th, the Umbrella Movement erupted. Over 79 days, 1.2 million people demanded the basic human right of universal suffrage. The street occupations became a landmark in the long struggle for democracy comparable to the 1989 democracy demonstrations in China and have had a profound impact on the future of Hong Kong’s democracy movement.
On April 9th, 2019, in the most high-profile trial related to the Umbrella Movement, all of the Umbrella Movement 9 were found guilty of various charges of “inciting public nuisance”. One of the defendants, long-time democracy campaigner Reverend Chu Yiu-ming said, “Martin Luther King Jr. once said that without justice, there can be no true harmony. I urge you, who find your home in this city, have compassion on the victims of unjust systems. They include the protesters, also police officers. I pray that compassion will generate courage in us to fight the evil of this unjust system.” On the road to justice, the countless numbers who push for progress must work without resentment or regret. When one falls down, another takes his place. In this way, how can we fail to reach the destination?
“Darkness dyed my eyes dark, but I’m still looking for light”— Gu Cheng‘One Generation’
爭取平反•正視歷史 Vindication and Reveal the Past
Argentina and Chile: In the 1970s and 1980s, military dictatorship in Latin American countries led to large numbers of persecution and disappearance of civilians. In Argentina, mothers and grandmothers of some victims wore white head scarves and held gatherings every Thursday at Plaza de Mayo in the capital city Buenos Aires, which was one of the important forces that led to the fall of the military government. In Chile, although the military dictator Pinochet died without trial, he still paid a price for his crimes, including the court’s lifting of life-long immunity and a number of charges. The Chilean government set up “The Commission on Truth and Reconciliation”, and “National Corporation for Reparations and Reconciliation” to compensate the victims and establish museum to retain memories.
Gwangju Incident, South Korea: On May 18th - 27th, 1980, the military government suppressed demonstrations in Gwangju by armed forces. Due to public and international pressure, presidential direct election was held in South Korea in 1987, and public’s demand on investigations of Gwangju Incident intensified. In 1996, Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, the former presidents that suppressed the Gwangju people were sentenced respectively. In addition, 18 May is designated as the day of commemoration, and various memorial halls, plazas, and national trauma centres were established. Moon Jae-in became president in 2017 and more truth on the Incident was exposed as he requested further investigations.
“February 28th Incident” in Taiwan: On February 27th, 1947, some Taipei government officials injured a female cigarette hawker and killed a citizen, which triggered the “February 28th Incident”. With the development of social democratic reform movement in the 1980s, the civil society broke through the taboo for the first time to publicly commemorate the “February 28th Incident” in 1987, which ultimately led the government to reveal the past, publicly apologize, compensate the families of victims, exonerate the victims, establish national memorial and monument, and set “February 28th” as “Peace Memorial Day”. Till now, Taiwan is still discussing issues of transformational justice left by authoritarian governance and white terror.
真相與和解•轉型正義 Transformational Justice for Truth and Reconciliation
Blacks in South Africa had experienced inhumane treatment of apartheid until 1994. Black leader Mandela ended his 27-year prison life in 1990 and participated in democratic transformation negotiations. The parties reached a consensus in 1993 to formulate a transitional constitution. In 1994, the country held the first democratic election and established the Constitutional Court. In 1995, the Parliament of South Africa enacted “The National Unity and Reconciliation Act”, and established “The Truth and Reconciliation Commission” (TRC) to launch the nationwide investigation of massive human rights violations from 1960 to 1994. Truth and reconciliation are seen as bridge from the past to the democratic future, with focus on granting amnesty to reveal the truth and establish reconciliation. Albie Sachs, a former Judge of the South African Constitutional Court, pointed out that South Africa’s truth reconciliation can be divided into three parts: the reveal of truth, amnesty and compensation. The offender had to apply for amnesty and sincerely asked for forgiveness. Then an independent panel of experts decided whether to approve the application. Everyone was required to expose all human rights violations in good faith. This reflects an important basis for amnesty and social reconciliation is to first reveal the truth. The guilty should first let go of fear, admit crimes, and ask for forgiveness. Through the openness and transparency of the perpetrators’ behavior and the injuring system, it also helped the society to establish democratic spirit and rule of law.
極權倒台•和平演變•民主轉型 Totalitarianism Collapsed and Peacefully Evolved into Democratic Transformation
Wave of reforms in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe: Many countries in Eastern Europe experienced the totalitarian rule of the Communist Party and even invasion of the Soviet Union to suppress democratic activities. The people had strived but also had lived in despair. On the day of “June 4th Massacre” in China, there was encouraging news from Poland that the Solidarity Union won the election and the communist regime collapsed. The communist regimes in Eastern Europe successively fell in the following months, including the Czech, Hungarian, and East Germans. They peacefully transited from totalitarianism to democratic multi-party systems, abolished the one-party dictatorship and promoted free elections. The Soviet Union also dissolved in 1991. The successful transformation of Eastern Europe was closely related to the social and economic difficulties at the time, the reform of Gorbachev, the willingness of the regimes to choose compromise and peaceful negotiations to resolve crisis, as well as the persistent struggle of the people.
Jasmine Revolution / Arab Spring: From the end of 2010 to the beginning of 2011, the “Jasmine Revolution” broke out in Tunisia in North Africa, overthrowing the dictatorship of president Ben Ali. The wave of revolution immediately spread to many countries in North Africa and the Middle East, including Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, and became a new wave of democracy movements known as the Arab Spring. Among these countries, Tunisia is the most successful one in peaceful transition to a democratically elected government due to the key role of civil society in the process of democratic transformation. During political stalemate, trade union, lawyer group, human rights organization, industrial and commercial organization established the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet in 2013 to help holding open and transparent elections and established new constitution for democratic constitutional system. The Quartet was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.
Photos: From The Inception Of Communist Rule To The June 4th Massacre