Chai Ling, Please Shut Your Mouth!
Upon the 23rd Anniversary of June 4, I am shocked to learn about a public letter written by the previous students leader of Beijing, Ms. Chai Ling, in which she forgives Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng as well as the martial troops. Ms. Chai said in the letter, “I forgive Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng. I forgive the military soldiers who tramped into the Tiananmen Square in 1989. I forgive the continuous suppression of freedom and cruel One-Child Policy led by the current leaders of the Chinese government.”
The above words came to me as tremendous shocker. In the name of her faith as a Christian, Chai Ling is calling for regarding Deng and Li with the Christian culture or the forgiving culture. I want to ask Chai Ling: Whom are your words representing? Are you representing everyone participated in June 4? Or the souls of those who died on June 4? Is it because you have been enjoying the breeze of freedom all these years in the U.S. that you could possibly utter these shameless words? Modeling around the western world crowned as the “Students Leader” or “Hero of June 4, you have must have been feeling little pain any more, if at all. But have you forgotten that you are from a China, a country that is still frozen from freedom and democracy and your country folks are still suffering the hardship as humans?!
Let me ask you, Chai Ling, what are you forgiving with? In the past 23 years, how much hardship of the participants have you experienced? So many of your comrades of June 4, they fell right in front of you that very day. Can you imagine how they closed their infuriated eyes? Some lost part of their bodies and have been pulling through excruciating pains both physically and mentally, let alone their parents for all these years. I know one of the fathers chose to commit suicide not so long ago out of despair. There are many more students who have been persecuted by the government, expelled from the schools, discriminated by the employers. As to those who were sent to the labor camps and sentenced to jails, including all the students leaders and demonstrators across the country, including many workers and civilians, all the inhumane treatments they have been subjected to, could be forgiven with an “Amen” from you?
Without June 4, there would have been no “Yellow Bird Rescue Plan”, much less any more Chai Ling. Today you can enjoy the material civilization of the west and its freedom of speech. Today the reason you can talk about forgiveness while standing on the bank watching the drowning ones fighting for their lives in the water, is because you have made to the bank with a life boat and no longer have to worry about when the boat is sinking. You are forgiving them, then does it make June 4 your personal feud with Deng and Li?!
Had you chosen to stay in China, and experienced what it is like being followed and watched every day, being investigated, every single phone call you make, every friend you contact, even all the personal intimate words you would have with them, everything monitored by the police, are you still able to say that you forgive them?
Had you chosen to stay in China and gone through being jailed, interrogated, tortured, humiliated, in the jail, in the courthouse, in the prison, being forced to crouch or kneel with clubs slamming your head by the police, when your dignity is shattered and trotted over, are you still able to say that you forgive them?
Had you chosen to stay in China, even if you make it till your release from prison, you are not allowed to choose the city you want to settle in, nor to pick any job you desire. Your friends and relatives cannot maintain a normal relationship with you. Your previous lover decides to break up with you or even become an enemy of you, because his future is at risk because of you, are you still able to say you forgiven them?
It is hard to believe that you would “pray for Deng and Li and the troops every day”. Have you prayed for the angry souls floating above Tiananmen Square? Have you prayed for the “mothers of Tiananmen” who lost their beloved children? Those who died for their dreams and democracy, who dedicated their best years to the prisons, who suffered all the physical and mental tortures you could possibly imagine, the students, the teachers, the civilians — have you prayed for them???
In the documentary a few years ago talking about June 4, you indicated that you did not want to die at the time, but thought it was necessary to send many other people to die, because that would bring the shock to the world and produce revolution. In other words, as a students leader, you want the path to democracy to be paved with other people’s blood. Have you ever asked from the bottom of your heart: who will forgive you?
What is “forgiveness”? When the victims’ sufferings are continuing and the criminals not showing a single sign of repentance, the total truth of June 4 yet to be released, including who were the masterminds? Who were the victims? How many people died? How many were injured and persecuted? What are their names? When these basic truths are still covered up, what could the forgiveness be based on? Before there is any truth, it is the ultimate disrespect to the victim to talk about “forgiveness”.
Nelson Mandela was jailed for 27 years after all the maltreatments. When he was sworn in as President, three of the jail guards who abused him were invited to the ceremony. When Mandela stood up and paid respect to those three guards, everyone at the ceremony and of the world fell into silence. Mandela said, “When I walked out of jail and walked towards the gate of freedom, I am fully aware that if I can not leave behind all the sadness and hatred, then I would still be in jail!” Mandela could talk about forgiveness. He could forgive the jail guards, because they had stopped committing the sins and apartheid had ended.
Pope John Paul II went to the prison and visited the Turkish assassin Agca who attempted to shoot him at the St. Peter’s Square, and showed the assassin his forgiveness. Yet the condition of the forgiveness was the Agca had felt the guilt and sin of his actions, and when he “understood there is a higher power above firing and killing”, he deeply repented his actions. Pope John II could talk about forgiveness and he did forgive his assassin because of the repentance. Mandela could leave the sadness and hatred in the prison and Pope John II could touch a killer with his soul, but Chai Ling, you do not have that entitlement.
Maybe you have mistaken yourself with politicians like Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. It is true that a politician’s ambition has room for affectation, , but a scholar’s job is to always search truth. An individual can be forgiven by another individual, but history never forgives any sin. If you believe you are entitled to talk about forgiveness just by believing in Christianity, then those trying Nazi’s at the Nuremberg courthouse after WWII, wasn’t anyone of them a Christian?
Do not ask why I cannot disagree any more with your words. It is because I have endured all the tortures you have not. You can choose to put on a refined show, but I must search for truth. You were one of the 21 students’ leaders of the Confederation of Beijing Universities who were issued arrest warrants. I was one of the 17 students’ leaders of the Confederation of Nanjing Universities who were issued arrest warrants. You were a student’s leader arriving in US after being rescued by the “Yellow Bird Rescue Plan”, but we were the ones who gave up on the rescue and chose to stay in China and search tirelessly for democracy. Not everyone has to go to the United States to help build democracy in China. We choose to persevere after making peace with our mind to pay the price. None of the students leaders from the Confederation of Nanjing Universities went into exile overseas after June 4. Almost all of us had gone in jail. The consequence of our refusal of the “Yellow Bird Rescue” was that most of us were jailed and persecuted. I myself was investigated after 1989, then arrested and sentenced by the government. Having been locked up in various jails, I spent more than 2,000 days in prison until 1997 after the return of HongKong.
Together with me, there are many outstanding students who had similar experiences. After short of long time in prison, they have never given up their faith. We firmly believe that fighting comes hand in hand with sacrifice. We have never complained or regretted. Comparing with those who lost their lives for democracy, we are still alive, still fighting for our dreams. That makes us the most fortunate ones already.
Due to the arrest warrants and intensive searchings, you and many others involved in democracy movement went to the west and preserved a group of elites for China’s democracy cause. We respect your choices, and over the years we have been watching everything you have done for China’s democracy. However, I personally have always believed that the advance of the cause of China’s democracy cannot be accomplished from the west, much less in the U.S. Staying away from China merely secures your physical safety, but the cementing of your beliefs depends on your own work. The birth of numerous democracy thinkers and democracy elite activists involves many factors: not only personal charisma and rich knowledge but also moral self-discipline, endurance of sufferings and pains. Only after all those could they finally reach a place where they could willingly dedicate themselves to democracy without looking back. As to a so-called “democracy elite” such as you, being attention hungry and try to forgive a sinner who has shown no sign of repentance, to try to build a free and democratic China out of air in the western world, is no different than trying to row a boat in the desert as far as I am concerned.
In the end, I have one thing to tell you. You can choose to forgive anyone you want, but the history does not forgive any sin. Twenty three years have passed and we have all reached our middle age. Even though we maybe insignificant as an individual passerby in the history, but as “Students Leaders”, we do assume extra responsibilities. Please lose your ignorance and superficiality. Study more Bible, as you still have ways to go to qualify as a nun, much less a Saint.