Remembering Tiananmen Square at Times Square

Weiming Chen (Photo by Yingzi Yin via World Journal)

Weiming Chen (Photo by Yingzi Yin via World Journal)

Many pro-democracy Chinese gathered in Times Square on June 3 to mark the 27th anniversary of the June Fourth incident. [Editor’s note: Also known as the Tiananmen incident or Tiananmen massacre, the various names refer to the day on June 4, 1989 in Tiananmen Square in Beijing when the Chinese government opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators.] At the rally, several witnesses to the incident recalled their experience as they stood beside a replica of the “Goddess of Democracy.”

China Reborn and the Democratic Party of China, pro-democracy organizations of Chinese exiles, also gave awards to a few individuals who have done extraordinary work to promote democracy.

One of the awardees was Weiming Chen, a Chinese artist who made the sculpture. The sculpture, which Chen started to work on in the beginning of this year, was a replica of the one erected in Tiananmen Square during the pro-democracy movement close to three decades ago which was knocked down by military tanks. “The Goddess of Democracy now stands again,” said Chen.

Chen said the display in Times Square was part of his exhibition tour called the national China terrorism show,” which was launched in Los Angeles on May 14 and has stopped at Harvard University, the University of Chicago and other colleges and landmarks in Washington D.C. before heading to New York. The purpose of the tour was to reveal “the truth of June Fourth.” 

Chen said that at the exhibition at Harvard, a Chinese international student and his father took off their hats to mourn the dead. “The student was graduating that day. He stood at the sculpture and the photos and listened to his father telling him the history. Then he placed the flower bouquet he got at the graduation ceremony in front of the photos to show his respect to those who died on June 4th,” said Chen.

Juntao Wang, a former student leader at the Tiananmen Square protests who is now a chairman of the National Committee of the Democratic Party of China, said in the recent years more and more young Chinese born in the 1980s and 1990s have started to participate in the anniversary rallies and demand to know the truth of June Fourth. And this made him hopeful for the torch of democracy and liberty to be passed to the younger generations. “The participants at the rallies include Chinese students as well as Chinese immigrants and professionals,” said Wang. He said every year the organizers of the anniversary rallies tried to invite witnesses to tell their experiences, hoping to help more young people understand what happened in history.

“Some say Chinese are not interested in politics. But that’s only because they are frustrated that they cannot participate in politics in their own country in a democratic way,” Wang said. He pointed out that this is the presidential election year in the U.S. and voters here can support their own candidate with ballots. But in China people still don’t have the right to vote. No wonder they are not enthusiastic about politics. 

Haiyue Yu (right) accepting the award for her father. (Photo by Yingzi Yin via World Journal)

Haiyue Yu (right) accepting the award for her father (Photo by Yingzi Yin via World Journal)

Wang also said he didn’t like China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s berserk response to a reporter’s question about human rights issues during a recent visit to Canada.

China Reborn gave its 16th Human Rights Award to Shiwen Yu. Yu was arrested when he tried to organize a June Fourth anniversary event in China. His daughter Haiyue Yu accepted the award for her father. The Democratic Party of China gave its annual Liu Xiaobo Award, named after the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is still in prison in China, to Haitao Zhang, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison in China for expressing himself. And Chen, the artist, got the 27th Anniversary Special Award. 

Watch a clip of the rally in this video from World Journal:

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