“The events of 1989 had an impact on China but also on the whole world. As we realize the threat that the regime (of Chinese President) Xi Jinping poses to civilization, we must commemorate ( June 4) 1989”, launched in front of the press Wang Dan, founder of this small New York memorial museum and who was one of the great figures of the student movement of Tiananmen Square.
In a tiny office space in a charmless building in midtown Manhattan, photos, videos, press clippings, posters, letters and banners about this historic democratic uprising that Beijing bloodily suppressed, with at least 1,000 protesters, are on display. peaceful killed.
Human rights organizations say the victims number in the thousands.
“We must commemorate those who sacrificed their lives and remember the democratic dreams of the Chinese people at the time,” urged Wang Dan, who served years in prison in China before being welcomed in 1998 to the United States. and do a history thesis at Harvard.
But “even in the United States, we feel the pressure and threats from the Chinese regime,” he told AFP.
For this dissident, “the events of 1989 are linked to the past but also to the present and the future” and he demanded that we “remember the true face of the Chinese Communist Party” of 1989 and today .
Many Chinese opponents and American politicians spoke at an inauguration ceremony for the museum, the only permanent exhibition in the world on Tiananmen after the closure in 2021 of a museum in Hong Kong.
In fact, the artistic effervescence that accompanied each year in Hong Kong the commemoration of Tiananmen has almost disappeared under the yoke of the pro-Beijing authorities.
For more than 30 years, tens of thousands of people have gathered every June 4 in Victoria Park in Hong Kong — returned from London to Beijing in 1997 — for a candlelight vigil.
But since China imposed a national security law in 2020, local authorities have shut down such gatherings, criminalized most dissent and stifled the democratic movement.
– “There’s a story” –
Some wore masks and sunglasses to avoid being recognized and endangering their families back in China, AFP found.
Yuge Shi considered it “very important” to be able to demonstrate. “You know, the Chinese government killed a huge number of people in 1989, and they don’t want people to remember that. That’s why every year we have to stand here and tell all people of the world that there is a History,” he told AFP.
“Nearly 40 years have passed between the + White Papers + protests (late 2022, editor’s note) and those in Tiananmen Square, and yet we are still led by the same government whose nature has not changed one bit. iota”, confided to AFP a demonstrator who agreed to give only her first name, Shawn, for security reasons.
At the end of November 2022, a rare movement of hostility towards the regime of President Xi Jinping and his draconian “zero Covid” policy shook China. Many demonstrators then waved blank sheets of paper to symbolize censorship.
During this unprecedented mobilization since the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989, the protesters demanded an end to the harsh health restrictions against Covid-19 and demanded more freedoms, a month after the reappointment of Xi Jinping at the head of the country. .
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