June 4: Tiananmen Square Day

June 3, 2015 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Disinformation, Enemies of Freedom, Fairness, Judicial Injustice | 1 Comment
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A drafting board with a T-Square and triangle. Photo by Michael Holley, October 24, 2012.

A drafting board with a T-Square and triangle. Photo by Michael Holley, October 24, 2012.

June 4 is Tiananmen Square Day: T-square Day

An emblem for Tiananmen Square Day.  Created by thepoliblog.WordPress.com

An emblem for Tiananmen Square Day. Created by thepoliblog.WordPress.com

Two previous posts (here and here) on this blog have marked the anniversaries of the massacres in Beijing and Chengdu on and after June 4, 1989. It is that time of year again.

Tiananmen Square Day honors those who believed in the rule of law.

The demonstrators in Beijing and Chengdu thought that the government of China would adhere to its own written laws. They thought that laws exist to benefit and protect the people, not just to benefit and protect the powerful – those who have appointed themselves to rule the country. The demonstrators’ concept was correct, but their prediction was wrong.

The government of China claims to observe the rule of law. But that is a sham. Laws in China are written or are re-interpreted according to the whims and interests of the powerful. In China today, the mafia is in control.

Recent items (here, here, and here) in the Washington Post underscore the arbitrary way in which the laws are invoked, and the impunity with which they are twisted.

Besides stunting Chinese society, besides the unfairness to individuals and communities, this looseness with fact and law could lead to international conflict. The unilateral reinterpretation of territorial claims in the waters around south east and eastern Asia are a recent example.

In discussing this and other government actions, it is essential to distinguish between the government of China, and China and the Chinese people. To say and write ‘the government of China’ takes more time and space than to say and to write ‘China’, but the distinction is so important that it is worth the extra time and space. Never insult an injured people by confusing them with their oppressors.

Tiananmen Square Day honors the rule of law, while demonstrating that the rule of law cannot exist without the separation of powers.

The separation of powers is the only way for the administrators, the legislators and the judiciary of any polity to be independent enough to monitor one another, and to limit each other’s abuse of power. The tendency to abuse power is inherent in human nature. Even people of good will cannot resist the temptation to abuse power. We are excellent rationalizers, so we easily trick ourselves. The trajectory of the French Revolution is a perfect example.

Black was the color chosen by the demonstrators in Beijing and in Chengdu. Wear something black on Tianenmen Square Day. If you need to be inconspicuous, wear black shoes, or a belt, or a tie, or a scarf or a purse.

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Wear Something Black on June 4 (Tiananmen Square Day)

May 29, 2014 at 8:01 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Fairness | 2 Comments
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Retouched version by Gary King of a picture taken of Natasha Bedingfield by Bobcobb22 at Six Flags over Georgia in Austell, Georgia, USA on July 13, 2008.

Retouched version by Gary King of a picture taken of Natasha Bedingfield by Bobcobb22 at Six Flags over Georgia in Austell, Georgia, USA on July 13, 2008.

On and around June 4, 1989, Chinese citizens were killed or imprisoned or beaten by the Chinese Government for peacefully demonstrating at Tianenmen Square for a more open society (see here and here). They wanted a society that functioned according to democratically chosen and publically announced laws, rather than according to unpublished but universally understood rules that are crafted for the benefit of the powerful, and are administered and revised according to their whim.

June 4 is International Tiananmen Square Day. It reminds us of the courage, heroism, and patriotic public spirit of the demonstrators. It reminds us that the Chinese Government still has not expressed regret for abusing its most public spirited citizens – those who wanted to advance their country rather than to fill their wallets at the expense of their fellow citizens.

The demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square chose black to be the color that symbolized their adherence to their cause.

In memory of the demonstrators, and to honor their ideas, wear something black on June 4. June 4 is a Wednesday this year.

Black shoes, a black belt, a black shirt, a black hat, a black necktie, black gloves, black shirt buttons, a black band, a black ribbon, a black scrunchie, a black umbrella – anything black.

'Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

‘Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Turkish President Abdullah Gül.

Mens' ballroom shoes at the Eurodance (Vladimír Bábor), Czech Republic, photographed 25 February 2009 by Martin Kozák.

Mens’ ballroom shoes at the Eurodance (Vladimír Bábor), Czech Republic, photographed 25 February 2009 by Martin Kozák.

Ladies' ballroom shoes by Tango Shoes, Buenos Aires, photographed 25 February 2009 by  Martin Kozák.

Ladies’ ballroom shoes by Tango Shoes, Buenos Aires, photographed 25 February 2009 by
Martin Kozák.

292x240.S3_SafetyFootwear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kazuma Nitta performs a Kubudo Kata with a staff for the judges at the Open Karate Tournament in Japan, 2004. Photographed by Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Floto, USMC.

Kazuma Nitta performs a Kubudo Kata with a staff for the judges at the Open Karate Tournament in Japan, 2004. Photographed by Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Floto, USMC.

The first Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Tsîn-sí-hông. 秦始皇。

The first Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang.
Tsîn-sí-hông. 秦始皇。

 

Additional information:

The Massacre at Tiananmen Square was twenty five years ago tomorrow, June 4, 1989, in Beijing and in Chengdu.

Tomorrow, the 25th anniversary of the Massacre, Louisa Lim’s remarkable new book (The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0199347704) will become publically available. Selections from it at the web sites of on-line book sellers show that the book contains much new information, written beautifully and clearly, as well as remarkable interviews and color photos. The link to a Washington Post article by Louisa Lim, about the secrecy she had to deploy to write the book, was given near the beginning of this post.

Dan Southerland was the chief of the Beijing bureau of the Washington Post in 1985 through 1990. In a recent article he praises the additional information that was uncovered by Louisa Lim, and is included in her book. His article also describes what he saw before, during, and after the massacre.

The link to an astounding video, narrated by Dan Southerland, appears in the online version of an article by Michael Streissguth that has just appeared in the Washington Post Magazine. The video shiows the attacks on the students, and shows Tank Man stopping a column of tanks on a nearby street. The video also shows very shocking photos. Southerland very effectively describes the time-line of the events. The students were demonstrating protesting corruption by officials, and because they knew that China needed a more open society. The video was produced by Kate M. Tobey, assembled by Jason Adag, and used excellent graphics by Osman Malick and Julio Negron.

Streissguth’s article itself is very informative, and includes remarkable photos of bicycles that had been flattened by army tanks, and of students in Tiananmen Square listening to a young leader of the pro-democracy movement.

A good article by Ruth Marcus describes present-day attitudes in China about the massacre.

An moving article by Rowena Xiaoqing He describes the impact of the massacre on parents of the students who were killed.

William Wan’s article in the Washington Post shows astounding works of art produced by artists in China, in response to the massacre.

An article by Dana Nemcova, Jiri Gruntorad, Jan Ruml show that the ideas of the demonstrating students live on.

More additional information:

Today is the 25th Anniversary of the Massacres at Tiananmen Square and at Chengdu. Several fascinating articles have appeared in print today (2014-06-04).

Tom Malinowski’s op-ed article in the Washington Post notes how the Chinese government’s failure to come to grips with the massacres has held China back, and why it matters to the rest of the world.

An editorial by the Editors of the Washington Post stresses the fear that underlies the Chinese governments attempts to suppress information not only about the massacres, but also about its abuse of China’s brave patriots and their good ideas, as well their suppression of any non-governmental organization that becomes large. These suppressions directly violate China’s constitution. The on-line version of the editorial also includes a link to a remarkable article by Hua Ze which was published by The New York Times on August 18, 2013, about how the Chinese government misused its police powers to persecute Xu Zhiyong, for his advocacy of the rule of law and for his opposition to corruption. The editorial also mentions a book, In the Shadow of the Rising Dragon: Stories of Repression in the New China, that was edited by Xu Youyu and Hua Ze and was published last year.  I hadn’t known of the book, and am eager to read it.

An article by William Wan and Simon Denyer in the Washingtom Post describes the Chinese government’s panicky and heavy-handed repression of remembrance of the massacres. (Note: “the Chinese government’s”, not “China’s”! ) The article includes interesting interviews and photos, and a link to the video that was described above.

 

 

International Tiananmen Square Day

May 30, 2013 at 10:23 am | Posted in Abuse of Office, Disinformation, Fairness | 3 Comments
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Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, May 1988, one year before the protests.  Photo by Derzsi Elekes Andor.

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China, May 1988, one year before the protests. Photo by Derzsi Elekes Andor.

It is now only a few days before June 4, International Tiananmen Square Day.

International Tiananmen Square Day commemorates the bravery, the good will, and the peaceful, principled behavior of the patriotic students who were killed near Tiananmen Square on June 3, June 4, and on subsequent days in 1989.

According to Wikipedia, the students “called for government accountability, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the restoration of workers’ control over industry.”  They also complained about “corruption of the party elite”.  All of those issues are still alive today.

A Chinese Type 59 tank at the Beijing Military Museum.   A Type 59 main battle tank on display at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in western Beijing. On June 3, 1989, People's Liberation Army soldiers on Type 59 tanks began firing on civilian demonstrators at Muxidi near the military museum. (Wikipedia)  Photo by Max Smith.

A Chinese Type 59 tank at the Beijing Military Museum. A Type 59 main battle tank on display at the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution in western Beijing. On June 3, 1989, People’s Liberation Army soldiers on Type 59 tanks began firing on civilian demonstrators at Muxidi near the military museum.
(Wikipedia) Photo by Max Smith.

But International Tiananmen Square Day commemorates other brave and decent people, as well.

Many have heard of Tank Man, a single individual who on June 5 blocked tanks on Chang’an Avenue by standing in their path.  (The dramatic image is copyrighted, so it cannot be included here.  But you can see it via the hyperlink.)  The soldiers in these tanks respected this man’s rights as a citizen, and did not move forward until non-soldiers (whose identies are unknown) pulled Tank Man out of the street and took him away.  Tank Man subsequently disappeared.  He was a hero.

But the soldiers in the tanks who refused to run over him, or shoot him, or beat him, or even push him out of the way – they were heros, too.  Those soldiers insisted on treating a Chinese citizen as a citizen: as a person with a right to speak, and who deserved to be treated respectfully and humanely.  The soldiers in those first few tanks were honest soldiers, protecting their people instead of killing and cowing them.  Only insiders know for sure what happened to the commander of the lead tank.  Some claim that he was shot, others claim that he is still alive.  But there is no doubt that he was a hero, and a truer patriot than those who ordered the attack on the demonstrators, or than those who beat and shot them.

The commander of the lead tank on Chang’an Avenue was not the only Chinese soldier who acted nobly.  According to a remarkably illuminating page in Wikipedia, about two weeks before the massacre, ”On 17 May 1989, over 1,000 men from the People’s Liberation Army’s General Logistics Department showed their support for the movement by appearing on Chang’an Avenue and marching toward Tiananmen Square, all the while receiving enthusiastic applause from onlookers.”

According to the same Wikipedia page, “Martial law was declared on 20 May 1989. On the same day, eight retired generals, Wang Ping, Ye Fei, Zhang Aiping, Xiao Ke, Yang Dezhi, Chen Zaidao, Song Shilun and Li Jukui signed a one-sentence letter to Deng Xiaoping and the Central Military Commission, “request[ing] that troops not enter the city and that martial law not be carried out in Beijing.””

“The 38th Army is stationed near Beijing and therefore has a closer connection to the people of Beijing. Many students had also served in the unit before attending university and some students trained with the 38th in the summers as members of the army reserve. During the initial days when martial law was declared, the 38th Army, under General Xu Qinxian, openly refused to use force against student protestors.”

“During the Tiananmen repression an estimated 3,500 PLA officers disobeyed orders, resulting in scores of army officers being executed and several generals facing court martial, including 38th Army General Xu Qinxian.”

“The 28th Army was notable for its passive enforcement of the martial law order. The unit, led by commander He Yanran and political commissar Zhang Mingchun and based in Datong, Shanxi Province, received the mobilization order on May 19. They proceeded to lead the mechanized units to Yanqing County northwest of Beijing’s city centre. When ordered to enter the city on June 3, the 28th encountered protesting residents along route but did not open fire and missed the deadline to reach Tiananmen Square by 5:30 am on June 4. At 7:00am, the 28th Army ran into a throng of angry residents at Muxidi on West Chang’an Avenue west of the Square. The residents told the soldiers of the killings from earlier in the morning and showed blood stained shirts of victims.”

”At noon, Liu Huaqing, the commander of the martial law enforcement action, and Wang Hai, head of the PLA Air Force, flew over Muxidi in a helicopter and by loud speaker ordered the 28th Army to counterattack. But on the ground, the commanders of the 28th refused to comply. Instead the troops abandoned their positions en masse. By 5pm, many had retreated into the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution nearby. Of all units involved in the crackdown, the 28th Army lost by far the most equipment, as 74 vehicles including 31 armored personnel and two communications vehicles were burned.”

The protesters in Tiananmen Square wore something black.  It was the badge of their protest.  Wear at least one small bit of black on June 4, to commemorate the protesters, Tank Man, the soldiers who did not attack Tank Man, and the many officers and troops who refused to kill the protesters, and who were executed as a result.

Doing so will show that you look forward to the day when China – and all nations – will become humane and honorable.

As long as the government of China does not allow the Chinese people to voice their true opinions and aspirations, the policies and actions of the government of China are not those of the Chinese people.

As long as the government of China does not allow the Chinese people to voice their true opinions and aspirations, it deprives itself and China of its people’s ability to identify problems and to suggest solutions.

Since 1989 China has matured politically, and has become self-confident enough to allow people to point out selected problems.  But it still often responds thugishly, like a bully, punishing those who it should instead have thanked for speaking out, punishing even their relatives, in ways that dishonor China in the eyes of the world, and do not befit a great power.  Glaring recent examples are here, and here, and here.

Replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue at Freedom Park in Arlington, Virginia, photographed by Ben Schumin.

Replica of the Goddess of Democracy statue at Freedom Park in Arlington, Virginia, photographed by Ben Schumin.

On June 4, remember and act upon what the students stood for.

If you do, eventually China, and all countries, will be better.  They will thrive sustainably.  They will be more humane.  Their citizens will be able to become all they can be.

Tou Zhen’s Forgery

January 27, 2013 at 10:31 pm | Posted in Abuse of Office, Disinformation | Leave a comment
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An oriental whitebacked vulture (Gyps bengalensis), photographed by Goran Ekstrom, and published on January 31, 2006 in an article by L Gross in PLoS Biology Vol. 4/3/2006, e61.

An oriental whitebacked vulture (Gyps bengalensis), photographed by Goran Ekstrom, and published on January 31, 2006 in an article by L Gross in PLoS Biology Vol. 4/3/2006, e61.

When someone writes something and then signs someone else’s name to it, they are commiting the crime of forgery.  It is forgery, whether the misleadingly signed item is a check, a newspaper article, a letter, or a work of art.

Tou Zhen commited the crime of forgery.  For the January 2, 2013 issue of the South China Weekly, the editors had urged that China become a country ruled by law.  (The only alternative to the rule of law is – and always has been – rule by powerful individuals and organizations.)  Tou Zhen replaced the editor’s thought by praise of the Communist Party.  That is hardly the first time that praise of the Communist Party has been voiced in China.  Anything that is expressed so often and so uncritically becomes empty.

Tou Zhen thereby exposed the editors to ridicule by all who did not know that the empty words were not theirs.

You can read more about Tou Zhen’s forgery here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

This is a perfect example of how China deprives its people – and its leaders – of thoughtful, constructive ideas from its intelligent, creative, patriotic citizens.  That holds China back.

Tou Zhen’s action proved that he is not honorable, and that he is not intelligent.  If he had been honorable, he would have signed his own name, instead of trying to deceive people into thinking that the editors wrote what he had written.  If he had been intelligent, he would not have written such drivel.

Tou Zhen is not patriotic, because he would rather please his bosses than improve his country.  How can his family and neighbors speak to him without gagging?

Laws Against Blasphemy Are Always Wrong

August 24, 2012 at 9:44 am | Posted in Enemies of Freedom, Judicial Injustice | Leave a comment
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The Trial of Giordano Bruno (bronze bas relief), obtained via Wikipedia

Giordano Bruno being tried. Bronze relief by Ettore Ferrari (1845-1929), Campo de’ Fiori, Rome. Photographed in 2006 by Jastrow. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno)

If there are N different religions, at most one of them can be correct.  Then the only way of expressing the truth is blasphemy against at least N – 1 of them.

Blasphemy is not always good.  But laws against blasphemy are always bad.

Every law against blasphemy announces to the world that those who enacted that law do not believe that what they are shielding can withstand critical scrutiny.  It is an admission of weakness.  It announces a belief in the fragility of whatever is being shielded by that law.  It says, “People’s belief in these claims is brittle.  It anyone voices any doubt or question, the whole structure will collapse.”

In that way, every law against blasphemy, itself blasphemes against what it claims to shield.

A law against blaspheming the Koran, or Mohammed, or Allah, or Islam, itself blasphemes the Koran, or Mohammed, or Allah, or Islam.

A law against blaspheming the Bible, or Jesus, or Christianity, itself blasphemes the Bible, or Jesus, or Christianity.

A law against blaspheming the Torah, or the God of Abraham, or Judaism, itself blasphemes the Torah, or the God of Abraham, or Judaism.

So punish for blasphemy anyone who accuses someone else of violating a law against blasphemy, any judge who sentences the accused, and anyone who proposed or voted for or enforces a law against blasphemy.

Laws that prohibit criticism of a leader or a government, or a country’s policy, laws against political disrespect, are really laws against blasphemy: against political blasphemy instead of religious blasphemy.

Blasphemy and public criticism of governments and officials are good.  They expose weaknesses, and the glare of publicity then motivates fixing the weaknesses.  The result is a more coherent and intellectually defensible system of beliefs, or a stronger and better society.

The benefits from allowing public criticism are among the greatest strengths of an open society.  If leaders learn about problems only via official channels, they learn only information that has been filtered by a long chain of sycophants.  So the leaders don’t know what their major problems really are.  They hear only what their echo chamber repeats back at them, plus at most a few muffled contrary voices.

Turkey, China, Russia – are you listening?  (I included Turkey because it is so achingly close to being an open society, and its leaders are honorable patriots.  The other two are less advanced.)

Crowd-sourcing is a remarkably effective and comprehensive way of obtaining information, and of generating ways of solving problems.  One of the advantages of open societies is that they benefit from the crowd-sourcing of information and of ideas for solutions.  But crowd-sourcing works only when everyone can speak freely.

Ancient Athens was a democracy, but it was not an open society.  It used laws against blasphemy to stifle political discussion.  That is demonstrated by the trial of Socrates (URL1, URL2).

I continue to subscribe to the Washington Post, despite its increasing scrawniness and its increasing number of pushy ads (oversized pages, offset pages, pages that are deliberately made unavoidable by wrapping them around other pages).  I subscribe because the Washington Post so effectively uses exposés to force abuses to be fixed.  Watergate is a historic example.  The exposé on the Walter Reed Army Medical Center is a more recent one.  There have been many others.

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