TIANANMEN REFLECTIONS: Vigil to mark massacre tomorrow

LIBERTY SQUARE::Among the speakers at the Taipei event will be Chinese dissidents Wuer Kaixi, Yang Jianli and Tong Yi as well as two leaders of the Sunflower movement

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Jun 03, 2014 - Page 3

A candlelight vigil will be held in Taipei tomorrow to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, which capped weeks of pro-democracy protests in Beijing in 1989.

Chinese troops and tanks fired on civilians in the square on June 4; estimates of the death toll range from several hundred to thousands. The massacre remains a taboo subject in China.

For the fourth straight year, the event will be held at Liberty Square in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall.

It will include speeches, videos, music performances and a candlelight ceremony, according to a Taiwanese student group promoting democracy in China, one of the main organizers of the event, along with the New School for Democracy and the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights.

Some Chinese activists who participated in the 1989 student-led protests in Beijing will speak at the event, including Wuer Kaixi, Yang Jianli (楊建利) and Tong Yi (童屹), said Chou Ching-chang, a spokesman for the organizing group.

Participants will also voice support for 19 political dissidents jailed by the Chinese government, including Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), human rights lawyer Guo Feixiong (郭飛雄), professor Hao Jian (郝建) and Tibetan writer Dolma Kyab, Chou said.

The vigil organizers hope to expand support for Chinese political prisoners this year, especially since the Beijing government has jailed scores of human rights activists, writers and others in the weeks leading up to the Tiananmen anniversary, he said.

“We hope to draw a larger crowd this year to show the Chinese government that it is impossible to silence the people with state violence,” Chou said.

“If the Chinese people are silenced, we will speak for them,” he said.

At tomorrow’s event, different groups will also call on Taiwan’s government to make human rights protection a “precondition” for cross-strait exchanges and use this opportunity to reflect on the human rights condition in Taiwan, Chou said.

Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) and Dennis Wei (魏揚), two key figures of the student-led Sunflower Movement, are also scheduled to address the crowd, he added.

Chou said his group hopes to join forces with the Sunflower movement, as leaders of the movement have also been outspoken about the Tiananmen massacre, which is also known as the June 4th Incident, in Chinese.

The Sunflower movement refers to the series of protests organized by a coalition of students and civic groups from March 18 to April 10 to protest the Taiwan government’s handling of the cross-strait service trade pact signed in June last year and other issues.

People planning to attend the Liberty Square event are being encouraged to wear black to the vigil, as in past years, the organizers said.