JUNE 4TH, 2014

nzz-tiananmen-1989

 

There were demonstrations in Vienna yesterday. I went during the day, but in the evening I was too tired. It was important in the evening, of course. They let far-right organizations march through the city, canvass at universities and so on, aggressively protected by police. Anti-fascist protesters have a hard stand. Police brutality is fatal sometimes. A young subway sprayer was beaten into a coma by Wiener Linien public transport security and police in early April, and has not woken up since then. In the evening of June 3rd, the East Asian Studies department at Vienna university held an open discussion. The most interesting thing was three young female students who had interviewed Fang Zheng 方政 via Skype. He was that athlete whose legs were severed by a tank when he helped a female student get out of the way in the morning of June 4th, 1989. He became a disabled athlete and set records. But they were always worried he would get too much publicity, so he was barred from some international events. He kept quiet during the Olympics in 2008, so that he would get his passport and could leave in 2009. Lives in San Francisco, chairs an exile organization there. That presentation was great. The North Korea specialist made some interesting remarks, and in the end a Chinese professor finally made a brief personal statement. Vienna University vice president Prof. Weigelin-Schwiedrzik asked the students present what they would have done, if they would have stayed on the square under the threat of martial law. It is a romantic question – the protests in 1989 are always romanticized, as if it had been one great student party. Students took the lead, but the most important thing about any nationwide protest is popular participation, workers and many common people, not elites. Same with Taiwan’s recent Sunflower Movement. Anyway, I raised my hand and said I could not know what I would have done. Several people said so. I said I was in Taiwan in 1989, they also had demonstrations, with different aims. The February 28th, 1947 massacre in Taiwan had not yet been acknowledged. What I should have said when I raised my hand was that everyone present should think about taking part in the anti-fascist protests the next day in Vienna, on June 4th, 2014.

Tiananmen Square

 

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