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Chinese dissident Hu Jia prays for China's 'peaceful transformation'

2019/05/31 22:39:33

Image taken from Hu Jia's Twitter page

Taipei, May 31 (CNA) As the 30th anniversary of the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen Massacre approaches, one of China's most well-known rights activists Hu Jia (胡佳) said he could never forget those who died fighting for democracy and he prayed for democratic reforms in the country so that the people killed will not have died for nothing.

Hu was a 15-year-old teenager living in Beijing when the student-led protesters occupied Tiananmen Square in the Spring of 1989, calling for democracy.

In an interview ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, Hu told CNA from Beijing via telephone that even now he still remembered the indescribable excitement in his heart when he, squeezed among protesters in the Square in 1989, chanted slogans along with the "big brothers and sisters."

On the night of June 3, 1989, Hu recalled his father insisted that he stay home.

"My father grabbed me with all his strength, and sealed the doors to stop me from going out," Hu said.

His father's insistence saved Hu as military troops were mobilized that evening to "sweep" demonstrators off Tiananmen Square with assault rifles and tanks.

Estimates of the death toll during the crackdown, officially called the June Fourth Incident, vary from several hundred to several thousand.

After hearing a government-issued statement that "no one died" during the clear-out action by the military, Hu said he lost faith in the rule of the Communist Party entirely.

"The party's image shattered in my mind. Since then, I have never believed in the party's propaganda," said Hu.

Noting that the Communist regime has been claiming it always stands by the side of the people, Hu said the Tiananmen Incident made him a person who "sternly stood on the opposite side of the Chinese Communists."

Over the years, Hu has devoted himself to democracy, civil rights and environmental protection movements in China. In 2008, he was sentenced to 3.5 years in jail for "inciting subversion of state power," but later that year he was awarded by the European Parliament with its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Being one of the most prominent Chinese rights critics, Hu is always sent on a "holiday" before the anniversary of the massacre, to keep him from "causing trouble."

He said he was unable to reject "forced holidays" but hopes his existence "can work to keep history from being forgotten."

Expressing his plan to mark the 30th anniversary of the June Fourth Incident with 24-hour fasting and praying, the freedom-restricted activist said that in his heart there was always the blood of those who died on Tiananmen Square in 1989.

"I pray for reforms of China, its peaceful transformation" so that the June Fourth victims would not die for nothing, Hu said.

(By Chou Hui-ying and Elizabeth Hsu)
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