Persist withyour ideals, Wang Dan urges groups
Chong Hiu-Yeung in London
Tiananmen Square protest leader Wang Dan has urged Chinese democracy activists around the world to persist in their ideals despite fear the movement is grinding to a halt amid waning interest. Speaking at an event in London on Saturday, Dr Wang noted that themovement seemed to have reached a“particular low”.
“But I will never give up, so I hopeyou can all go along with me,” he toldthe farewell gathering organised by overseas Chinese democracy movement groups.
Dr Wang has spent the past sixmonths as a visiting scholar at Oxford University, and is to return to Los Angeles on Friday. He thanked Hong Kong people for their continued support and presence at the annual June 4 candle-light tribute to the sacrifices made during the 1989 protest movement.
“Every movement has ups anddowns,” Dr Wang said. “However,even when only one person is still fighting, it is still significant, because the meaning of democracy is to allowthe opposition voice to exist. The existence of an opposition voice is already a way to raise the level ofdemocracy in China.“Everyone can do a bit to make China more democratised. We must remember, all great movements in history started with one person.”
About 20 people attended the event at a Chinese community centrein London, among them K. K. Yau, a former activist from Hong Kong whofounded a group called the Concern China Society in 1989 in Manchester. But Mr Yau said he had had to close his group a few years ago as it had become increasingly difficult to organise democracy events in Britain after1997 because of a lack of interest.
“In the past, we could still form acore group at the University of Manchester. After 1997, the Hong Kongpeople there moved back to Hong Kong gradually and we lost the backbone of the movement,” he said.
Lucy Jin, a co-ordinator at theFederation for a Democratic China(UK), one of the key groups in Britain, also said it had become more difficult to interest students there from the mainland. Ms Jin was a visiting scholarat the University of Leeds during the Tiananmen Square crackdown in1989 and has remained in Britain.
“In the beginning, in the UK many people were proud of participating inthe movement. It was just like anhonour or merit in their lives, like showing people your wounds.“That golden era is over,” Ms Jin said. “Before June 4, 1989, we had 2,000 people joining the demonstration in London. But after the shootingin Beijing, only 500 people showedup and most of them were British.
“Now, the younger generation who were born after 1989 have been brainwashed by the propaganda ofthe Communist Party. They also don’t share the experience and emotion of the older generation,” she said.
The British groups will hold a commemoration in London to mark the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown, but activists said thhey did not expect a high turnout.