Tiananmen activists launch months-long hunger strike to call for Beijing accountability

Campaign, dubbed a "global siege", will also feature protests around the world leading up to the June 4 anniversary

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 9:57am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 9:57am

A group of June 4th dissidents launched a five-month hunger strike in memory of those who died in the Tiananmen Square crackdown 25 years ago, as well as to continue calling for accountability from Beijing over the incident.

Their campaign, dubbed “a global siege” in Chinese, will also feature a series of protests at China’s major embassies and diplomatic missions worldwide on June 4 this year.

The hunger strike was kicked off by organiser Wang Dan on New Year’s Day, and was joined by lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, as well as League of Social Democrats members Andrew To Kwan-hang and Avery Ng Man-yuen on the three days that followed.

Wang said supporters around the world had been passing on the torch since then and he was confident that the effort would continue until June 4, when it ends.

“We hope that the [Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China] will support us on that day by holding their [annual candlelight vigil] in Victoria Park,” Wang said.

The alliance’s chairman, Lee Cheuk-yan, said he would discuss the issue with Wang on Saturday when they were to meet at a seminar hosted by Wang’s New School for Democracy in Taipei.

“It’s not a problem for [more of] us to join in the hunger strike and to protest outside the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong,” Lee said.

But he added that the alliance hoped to focus on their activities in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the crackdown, including the opening of the world’s first permanent memorial museum on the incident in Tsim Sha Tsui in April, and a campaign to call for the release of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and an end to his wife Liu Xia’s undeclared house arrest.

Wang said he had an open mind about the alliance’s role.

Elaborating on his campaign, Wang said that its organisers, including fellow exile Wang Juntao, had been setting up a website and recruiting volunteers for the cause.

They would also host seminars about the crackdown, call international attention to those who died, and compile a list of those whom they believed should be held responsible for the deaths, Wang Dan said.

There had been a plan to relaunch the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation, which helped to organise the demonstrations that eventually turned into bloodshed – but the idea was put on hold after some organisers expressed reservations, he said.

In October, mainland media warned Lee and Occupy Central activists that they were “playing with fire” after one of the movement’s organisers, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, met Taiwanese politician Shih Ming-teh, seen by Beijing as an advocate of independence for the island.

When asked whether he would be risking the ire of Beijing by attending the seminar with Taiwan activists, Lee said: “If someone wants to find fault with you, he can always find something to say … we shouldn’t be afraid and stop our exchanges with the people in Taiwan.”

Wang added: “If we stop doing things that Beijing [dislikes], we would be better off dead … It is a meaningful exchange and Beijing’s reaction would only prove that we are doing the right thing.”

Ho, To and League of Social Democrats’ “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung will also speak in the two-day seminar.