Monday, June 01, 2009

A Network Of Mutuality: The Tiananmen Massacre

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -MLK
Time is the great revelator -- it uncovers everything, eventually. One of the more profound ironies to have emerged from the 1989 Tiananmen massacre is the enduring image of the "unknown rebel" halting a procession of tanks with nothing more than a couple of shopping bags in his hands.

The fact that "tank man," as some call him, will forever live alongside the benevolent visage of Mao as symbols of China in the twentieth century is something to truly relish 20 years on.

While tank man wasn't able to stop the massacre that was already occurring -- not only in the vicinity of Tiananmen, but all around Beijing -- he was able to single handedly overturn perceptions. By doing so, he created a legacy extending far beyond the bloody culmination of those horrific events.

Living in Hong Kong for over 8 years has given me an insight into how the community reacts to the Tiananmen massacre every year. This year being the 20th anniversary has made it more sensitive than most. It's seen the publication of Zhao Ziyang's memoirs - Prisoner of the State - and people from all over the political spectrum speaking out about reconciliation, truth commissions or the wacko revisionism of the importance of the massacre to the prosperity of the nation. There's also been the shocking revelation of an assassination plot targeting veteran democracy advocate Martin Lee.

"We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." -MLK
On June 4, the anniversary of the day the Chinese government tried to crush the spirit of its people, the legacy of tank man lives on. Let those who perished remind us of our mutuality, our single destiny.

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