June 4th Incident

Feng Congde, one of the student protest leaders during the June Fourth Incident, speaks at the memorial event, exploring solutions for political reform in China.

Twenty-six years have passed since the June 4th Incident, or China’s Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing. Dr. Feng Congde, one of the student leaders during the 1989 protest, continues to commemorate his late comrades who sacrificed their lives or sustained injuries for the ’89 Democracy Movement.

On Thursday night, in an event called “Special Commemoration on the 26th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre” in the UW’s Smith Hall, Feng addressed a crowd of about 40 students and community members.

The June 4th Incident was a series of student-led popular demonstrations starting in the spring of 1989, culminating in protesters occupying Tiananmen Square. The military crackdown called “clearing the square,” issued by the Chinese government, terminated the movement, leading to thousands of injuries and fatalities.

Yun “Eco” Liu, an activist who was arrested several times and jailed, said information about the June 4th Incident is still censored in Chinese publications. 

“Even numerical combinations of the numbers ‘six’ and ‘four’ are censored and prohibited,” she said.

Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Seattle director Andy Chin quoted the statement released by the Office of President of the Republic of China about the 26th anniversary of the June 4th Incident.

“President Ma thought even while China is achieving great economic success, China is still very less progressing in political reform,” Chin said. “Still China’s human right records are worrying the world.”

In his keynote speech, Feng accused the Chinese government of killing 3,000 innocent, peaceful, unarmed demonstrators.

“If we survivors only remembered inaccurate headc ounts such as 500 or 1,000, those who sacrificed their lives will be perished from the history for a second time,” he said.

Feng attempted to support his accusation by presenting recently discovered photographs of the June 4th Incident. He also played records of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) firing toward the student crowd.

“I could obtain plenty of evidence just from survivors who dare to speak out,” he said. “Ever since the communist party rose to power, such political oppressions have been occurring through their regime.”

Feng described and explained why the movement was a “failure,” but said he still looks toward a brighter future.

“No one dared to demand the communist party step down in ’89,” he said. “However, I believe there are many more people who wish this to happen nowadays.”

Feng founded an institution called “Tiananmen University of Democracy.” Through it he said he wishes to reveal the truth to newer generations in China using the Internet and other mass media.

“In ’89, most student leaders were science and engineering students,” he said. “I personally was not exposed enough to humanities and social sciences. Democracy movements we have … demand scholars, organizers, and coordinators.”

Feng is exploring new solutions for political reform in China. He said his future goals can be defined in three words: peaceful, equal, and democratic.

“We shall evade bloodshed and preserve racial equality while seeking for democracy,” he said. “Chinese government excels in manipulating conflicts among different races.”

The event organizers, who sought refuge in the United States, were able to express their grief and memory back in 1989, such events are generally outlawed in China today. Furthermore, security is usually tightened in the capital city, Beijing, each year around June 4.

One of the attendees told the audience not to take photographs of him, because he has to fly back to China several times per year.


Reach reporter Zezhou Jing at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @Zz_Jing

(1) comment

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