Horror of June 4 still fresh in activist's memory

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2002, 12:00am

Exiled dissident Han Dongfang - who missed the June 4 march for the first time 10 days ago - said he would make sure he attends the candlelight vigil at Victoria Park tonight.

The former labour activist said he was one of many who did not notice that the annual pre-June 4 march had been staged a week earlier than usual.

But he said it seemed like the trauma of students being crushed to death by People's Liberation Army tanks 13 years ago happened yesterday.

'June 4 is never something distant in my memory. If I was now a businessman or doing something totally different, then perhaps my memory would have faded,' he said.

Having secured permanent residency in the SAR last year and now working as a commentator at Radio Free Asia, the dissident said today was a day for reflection.

'June 4 is always a lesson to me. The outcome is traumatic. It's like the Japanese invasion. Even though they have apologised, the pain remains.

'But I will be pro-active, such as learning the lesson to prevent the same tragedy from happening . . . and I hope the Government will not treat the people in such a way again,' he said.

He believed June 4 had prompted the Chinese communists to reluctantly accept demonstrations.

With the annual turnout at Victoria Park falling in recent years, Mr Han said it was natural for people to be more preoccupied with their own problems.

'I don't feel disappointed. If I had not been involved in the incident myself, and had other things to worry about, such as unemployment or negative equity, I would have also put it behind me. That's human nature,' he said.

'But no matter whether we have thousands or hundreds of people coming, the fact that they guard this feeling in their heart is already invaluable. I'm sure some of the participants are jobless, weighed down by negative-equity problems or their businesses have floundered.

'I think it's a noble thing for them to come. But to stay away is not something wrong.'

Mr Han was jailed without trial on 'counter-revolutionary' charges after the crackdown. He was barred from entering China in 1993 after he had sought medical treatment in the US.

Meanwhile, dozens of University of Hong Kong students observed the tradition of re-painting the June 4 slogans on a campus bridge to refresh memories of the pro-democracy movement.