Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June 4th Nineteen Year Ago

I was in Ottawa, Canada, then. For weeks up until June, we had gathered in front of the Chinese Embassy on Sundays in support of the students in Tiananmen Square. We were guardedly optimistic and there was almost a festive atmosphere among the protesters.

Then on Saturday morning (Ottawa time), June 4th, we were stunned by the shocking news of the bloodshed. On Sunday, we couldn’t conduct our worship service normally, but ended up spending most of the time crying and praying for those who suffered in the bloodshed. After the service, the whole church marched to the Chinese Embassy to protest.

I was convinced that the government was wrong to kill the students who were protesting noisily but peacefully. During these 19 years I have not changed my mind and I have been attending the Candle Light Vigils practically every year. My wife and daughters would join me when they could. And we will be there again this evening - I am doubly encouraged that my elder daughters are going with their church friends and classmates.

Gradually many people who were initially critical of the bloodshed changed their tunes. Some say we should forget the past and move on - I say those who forget the history are condemned to repeat it. Some say the tragedy has led to many positive changes - I say that is even more reason to acknowledge wrong doings of the past so that the country can truly move on with openness and confidence.

It takes a great person to acknowledge his or her mistakes. So does a country.


Anonymous said...

I seldom expressed my anger and sorrow in the form of taking it to the street. But I did on the Sunday following June 4 1989. I still had the collection of newspaper clippings and magazines published at that time with me, as a testimony to the events and people's emotions at a definitive moment in history. Ann

StephenC said...

The injustice of it was so naked and blatant that it was harder not to be angry. The right and wrong of it was so clear to so many people then. It is good that you and I and many others have tried to preserve the memory of it.

The facts have been clear from the beginning and they have not changed. Why should we change now?