Friday, June 16, 2006

Remembering Tiananmen

I wanted to write about the Tiananmen Square Massacre. I wrote something last week and thought about it. One of those long and painful thoughts that wrestles with the notion - 'is this the right thing to do?' And yet, deep in my heart, I was aware that I had to say something about it. And yet, there was this temptation to just ignore it and then blame it on procrastination.

So what do I have to say that hasnt been said before or even analysed to death by pundits with academic degrees heftier than Hulk Hogan's biceps? After all, 4 June 1989 was a long time ago, and the world has changed a lot since then. The date, itself, has crept into history and has become just another 'historical event', or so it would seem to any ordinary observer.

However, to those of us, who were university students at the time, the student uprising that took place in Tiananmen Square was an eye-opener and an inspiration. It showed us, back then, that there were other students in other parts of the world who were concerned about more serious matters than the petty ones that usually occupied out minds. It gave us a glimpse that there other things worth fighting for and fretting about, and that dreaming big was, also, potentially within our reach.

Our concerns were mostly centred around - relationships, hostel food, assignments, weekends, killing boredom - or in other words, silly things. Ofcourse, they didn't seem silly back then, but examined in light of what the Chinese students went through... definitely silly and inconsequential.

It would be tempting to imagine that the eventual massacre that took place on 4 June was a clear indicator that the students had failed. After all, what chance did those students and their supporters have when they came face to face with the might of the Peoples Liberation Army? David had no chance with this Goliath, did he?

History will be able to give a definite answer to those questions, but there are other indicators, too. China has opened up a little more since then, maybe, not in the way everyone would like it to but, at least, the bamboo curtain has seen a rupture. If this rupture eventually leads to some kind of change in the social and political set-up, only time can tell.

However, it would help if the present proponents of 'democracy' remember what took place seventeen years ago in Tiananmen Square. They must remember not only the sacrifice of these students but the fact that this was a home-grown movement. It wasn't imported nor was it forced upon a people, but it grew out of an urge that finally found expression in a protest movement.

But it happened so many years ago, and the event can be easily forgotten by merely ignoring it. Maybe that's what some people have done for reasons best known to them. But that still does not explain why I took so long to write this piece.

I wonder, what was my reason?

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