The Laogai Research Foundation, along with the Wei Jingsheng Foundation, the Federation of Overseas Hong Kong Chinese DC, and the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars, cosponsored a candle-lighting ceremony on Saturday at the Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington, DC. The event anticipated the June 4th anniversary of the Chinese government’s massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. The 23rd anniversary was annually commemorated around the world with candlelight vigils, especially in record numbers in Chinese-claimed Hong Kong.
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Wang Dan, one of the most visible of the student leaders in the 1989 protests, spoke at the DC ceremony, as did famed Chinese democracy activists Wei Jingsheng, Yu Jie (who fled from China earlier this year), Taiwanese OCAC Commission Member Wu Ho-I, Tiananmen Mothers Dang Ziling and Tao Ye, and Dr. Lee Edwards, Chair of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which erected the memorial in DC.
Dr. Edwards’ speech focused on the choice of the Goddess of Democracy for the memorial, out of all the landmarks of the Communist world. The Goddess statue was created out of papier-mâché by the 1989 student protesters, and took a starring role in the Tiananmen Square protests as a symbol of the democratic aspirations of the popular movement, decimated by the PLA on June 4th, 1989. The VOC Memorial Foundation chose the statue as a reminder of the atrocities committed by Communist regimes, but also of their citizens’ eternal desire for freedom and the hopeful stirrings of democracy, manifested in the 1989 protests. The Tiananmen Square movement bears remarkable but tragic similarity to the current situation in Syria, where pro-democracy activists have been violently suppressed for months.
The ceremony opened with a moment of silence, and closed by candlelight with all participants singing a specially written song called “The Wound of History”, or “歷史的傷口”. LRF founder and executive director Harry Wu (吳弘達) also gave a rousing speech. Highlights can be found on the Radio Free Asia news page (8:20-11:20 in the video), while the transcript is below:
“謝謝大家。我今天很高興來，因為我沒有看到這麼多的人在這邊。我想要介紹一下所有的人。第一個我想［介紹］余杰、陸文禾、杨建利、張伯笠、 Lee Edwards、石和平、王丹、鄭義、鄧小吉、張敏，還有我們這邊的北明，跟世界日報的另外一位記者、蘇曉康、王文成，還有我們這位主席。
共產主義真會在中國結束，我相信這一點。我記得 1997 年江澤民到這邊來訪問的時候，他到哈佛大學去做演講。我也得到一個邀請到哈佛大學去做演講。江澤民十一點到十二點在小教堂裡面講，我是一點到二點在小教堂的對面,那個Memorial Chapel。我簡單講一下我講一些什麼。我說：今天是1997年的十一月。有沒有人記得四十年前的今天是什麼事情? 也就是說1957年的十一月是什麼情況? 赫魯雪夫邀請了全世界的共產黨領導人，包括德國、法國、義大利等等，當然也包括毛澤東在內，當做是特地慶祝前四十年1917年十月革命的勝利。他說:「你看，我們社會主意家庭有多大。我們社會主意事業光芒萬丈，前頭無量。」但是1957年到1997年以後，對不起，莫斯科沒有了。毛澤東講話的莫斯科大學也沒有了。今天江澤民是在美國的哈佛大學。在這前一天，他是在華爾街的股票市場。他去那兒幹嘛？大家知道做一個共產黨人第一件事情是什麼，摧毀資本主義治統。對不對？可是他在那兒慶祝資本主義治統。”
“Thank you. I am very glad, because I have never seen this many people here before. I would like to introduce everybody here. First I want to introduce Yu Jjie, Lu Wenhe, Yang Jianli, Zhang Boli, Lee Edwards, Shi Heping, Wang Dan, Zheng Yi, Deng Xiaoji, Zhang Min, Beimin, with another reporter from the World Journal, Su Xiaokang, Wang Wencheng, as well as our Chairman.
Communism will end in China; I really believe this. I remember Jiang Zemin’s 1997 visit, when he went to speak at Harvard University. I was also invited to make a speech at Harvard University. Jiang Zemin spoke from 11 to 12 o’clock inside the Memorial Chapel, while I was to speak at 2 o’clock across from the chapel. I simply tell you what I said: Today is November 1997. Does anyone remember what happened 40 years ago, in November 1957? Khrushchev invited the world’s Communist leaders, including Germany, France, Italy, etc., and of course, including Mao Zedong, to especially celebrate the ‘victories’ of the four decades since the 1917 October Revolution. He said: ‘You see, our socialist family is huge. Our future is bright! Our possibilities are endless!’ But from 1957 to 1997, I’m sorry, Red Moscow has ceased to exist. The Moscow State University where Mao Zedong gave a speech has ceased to exist. Today, Jiang Zemin is visiting Harvard University in the United States. The previous day, he was at the stock market on Wall Street. What was he doing there? We all know that the first thing a communist government wants to do is to destroy the capitalist system, right? But he was there to celebrate capitalism.”
A June 12 wreath-laying ceremony will mark the fifth anniversary of the Victims of Communism Memorial, and honor the victims of Communism worldwide.