Holding up portraits of detained Chinese democracy activists and lighting candles, hundreds of people gathered in Liberty Square in Taipei — where thousands had rallied in support of students and others protesting in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 25 years ago — to mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
“Free prisoners of conscience! Let human rights reign,” the participants chanted, while holding small candles in their hands to show their support for democracy in China as they remembered the tragedy in 1989.
“I would like to thank Taiwanese for standing on the same side as Chinese democracy activists,” exiled Chinese dissident Wuer Kaixi, one of the Tiananmen student leaders, told the rally. “We have not succeeded in our quest for democracy, and I would like to urge all Taiwanese to continue standing with us.”
It is unimaginable that the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party still stands, he said.
“I sometimes lament the fact that, since the Chinese students fired the first shot in 1989, we have not been able to succeed in 25 years,” the Uighur activist said.
However, Wuer Kaixi said he has never lost hope, because over the course of the past century, several fascist and communist regimes elsewhere in the world have fallen.
During the recent Sunflower movement protests in Taiwan, “some may have been surprised to realize how easily freedom could be lost, even when we are a strait away” from China, he said, urging the crowd to stand in line with Chinese democracy activists in the fight against dictatorship.
Long-time human rights advocate and attorney Wellington Koo (顧立雄) made a similar appeal.
“Having been through what we have been through together, we may feel that what happened in Tiananmen Square 25 years ago is no longer so distant,” Koo said.
“Remembering Tiananmen is not only about remembering what happened there 25 years ago, or those Chinese student activists on the square, it is also about showing our insistence on maintaining our way of life and our democracy,” he said.
“Let’s all join the campaign together, to make sure our way of life would stay on forever,” Koo added.
Exiled Chinese dissident writer Yu Jie (余杰) said the Tiananmen Square Massacre had been a wake-up call for him, leading him to the realization that he should lead a life to uphold certain values when, as a 16-year-old sitting in his home in a small town in China’s Sichuan Province, he heard gunshots over the radio from far away in Beijing.
“Eight years ago, I was in China, my friends and I — a total of six people — gathered to remember the massacre,” he said. “I could never imagine that, eight years later, I would be in Taipei, remembering the tragedy with hundreds of people.”
To help Taiwanese better understand the meaning of Tiananmen Square Massacre, “I would call it China’s 228 Massacre,” he said.
Later in the rally, people remembered the tragedy by singing, reciting poetry and saying prayers in the hope that democracy and freedom would reign over China soon.