June 4, 2011
Representatives of Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, and Uyghur communities joined together to discuss their current situations over two decades since the crackdown on peaceful protesters in Tiananmen Square
Below is an article published by UNPO:
Located within the grounds of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel lies a monument to the students and activists that lost their lives to the crackdown on peaceful protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. It is a powerful symbol of solidarity that transcends barriers of language, geography, and history. It was to this point that activists and survivors of that crackdown came together on 4 June 2011 to mark the twenty-second anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, an event organised by the Chinese Tibetan Friendship Society Europe.
The solemn commemoration was followed by a discussion meeting in which representatives of China’s different nationalities spoke of the personal histories associated with the fateful days leading up to the massacre of protesters in Tiananmen Square.
Speaking for the Tibetan Administration, Mr. Lobsang Nyima, noted that the new generation within mainland China was more materialist than any that had preceded it and lacked any knowledge of the Tiananmen Square massacre and what it had meant then and what it continued to mean today. Freedom for all within Tibet, East Turkestan, Inner Mongolia, and China as a whole would only be possible with a change in the current government.
Just as Tiananmen Square was largely unknown in China so Mr. Jian Zhang – a student that had been amongst those protesting in Tiananmen Square - reminded the audience that the massacre had been preceded by another crackdown in Tibet that extended from September 1987 to March 1989 and claimed many lives. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was building barriers between people and it had to be the responsibility of civil society and those people gathered for the commemoration to build the bridges to overcome these obstacles.
Representing the Uyghur community, Garaitjan Rozi noted that when he was in Canton in 1989 townspeople were amongst those supporting the students with anything from food and water to money. At that time there could be discerned a touch of humanity within the CCP when considering the refusal of Beijing’s general to follow the orders of Deng Xiaoping. But over twenty years later and the CCP were still training people to act without morals. It was time that the CCP finally recognised China’s multiculturalism and conceded that this should not be stripped away in the search for a homogenised ‘Chinese’ society.
Bakhtiar Rozi, echoing these sentiments noted that promises made by successive leaders of the People’s Republic of China to promote democracy and meaningful autonomy in areas such as East Turkestan, Inner Mongolia, and Tibet had been shown to be empty. Instead Uyghurs had been accused without proof of criminal activities and Han Chinese misled by state propaganda into believing such accusations.
Ms. Rigzin Genkhang, representing the Bureau du Tibet in Brussels, reminded those present that the stand-off in the Kirti Monastery was a clear demonstration of the ongoing policies of Beijing that were limiting what little freedom of expression and religion there existed in China at the current time. Nevertheless, it was important the actions of the Chinese state did not go unnoticed and Ms. Genkhang urged those present to support the hunger strike being conducted by the Tibetan Youth Congress outside the Embassy of the PRC in Brussels.
The meeting ended by drawing stark attention to fact that the security forces sent to Inner Mongolia to quell popular protests there, namely Army 38, was the same that had been deployed to such terrible and costly effect in Tiananmen Square in 1989. But importantly, the discussion showed that beyond China’s borders constructive steps were being taken to present alternatives to the current situation, to identify common ground between nationalities, and ultimately to present a genuinely democratic future for people living within China’s borders today.
* * *