Thursday, June 4, 2009

20 Years

(updated below)

That's how long it's been since students and other dissidents protesting China's tyrannical and brutal one-party state fell victim to that thing authoritarian regimes always do to protesters and dissidents: massacre, mass imprisonment, expulsion. That's how long the Chinese government hasn't said a word about what the Chinese themselves call "the June 4th incident." It's been erased from history, never mentioned on the news or in any history books or newspapers or magazines. Any books or films or works of visual art that acknowledge it have an impossible time getting published/heard/seen/read. If you look at the front page of (Hong Kong-headquartered) Asia Times Online today, you'll see nothing about Tiananmen Square. 

The Tiananmen Square uprising was, along with the uprisings against Communist rule in Eastern Europe the same year, one of many anti-tyranny rebellions where the protestors were inspired to no small degree by poetry: China's greatest modern poet, Bei Dao, along with the other poets of the so-called "Misty" or Obscure School (Duo Duo, Gu Cheng, Mang Ke, and others) wrote poems and published a magazine, Jintian (Today), that played a huge role in the students' Democracy Movement. Today none of those poets are allowed to enter China, and their works are banned.

Bei Dao

Wind at the ear says June
June a blacklist I slipped
in time

note this way to say goodbye
the sighs within these words

note these annotations:
unending plastic flowers
on the dead left bank
the cement square extending
from writing to

I run from writing
as dawn is hammered out
a flag covers the sea

and loudspeakers loyal to the sea’s
deep bass say June

Sign a petition demanding the Chinese government finally acknowledge the truth of their own history here. Read more about Bei Dao and the Misty Poets here.

UPDATE, via the BBC: The now "Special Administrative Region" of Hong Kong allows a candlelight vigil to mark the anniversary.

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