Sunday, May 31, 2009

20 Years Ago

Twenty years ago this week I was living in a wretched little apartment two blocks away from the Chinese embassy building here in DC. I watched with all of us in horror as the Chinese government sent tanks and troops into Tiananmen Square to crush the Chinese students' protest for democratic government. And I was one of many who spent the next few days planted in that tiny, triangular park in front of the embassy in protest. Before long some creative protesters had added a small, defiant "Goddess of Democracy" statue to the park, standing in silent protest and condemnation of the embassy across the street.

News channels have already started the anniversary stories on the Tianamen crackdown and massacre. Images stay with us. A lone man in a stand off with a line of tanks the day after the attack on the square perhaps the most iconic. The stories will note that we still do not know how many people died that day 20 years ago in the square. The Chinese government will decline to comment on the story. But what we will see and hear most of all will be how things have changed. How students who were killed for advocating democracy have become students who listen to music on ipods, surf the web, own property and enjoy the right to determine what they want to do in life.

Some stories may ask us to conclude that the students of 1989 have won the long battle. I would disagree. The Chinese government has used economic freedom to distract the people from political freedom. Shiny new toys do distract for a while. But they do not distract forever. The voices of 1989 will rise again, and this time I believe they will persevere. I believe the people who died that night at Tianamen Square will be heard again. I can't wait to listen.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Counter
hit Counter