Defense for Chai Ling -- a letter to the students in Hong Kong University
Author: Wang Dan
First of all, I want to thank all of the students in Hong Kong. You have voted with a decisive majority to request the Chinese Government to reverse the June 4th verdict. This action not only redeemed Hong Kong University students' reputation, and it further affirmed the conviction that desire for democracy is the basic element for mankind. Thank you for standing up for basic human principles.
In the mean time, I am deeply shocked and disappointed when I leaned that certain Hong Kong University person criticized Chai Ling as an "a-wall student leader". Even in Hong Kong, (when there were so much real time coverage of the movement), after 20 years, many people are no longer know or remember the events clearly. As a participant and survivor of the 1989 movement, I feel a sense of responsibility to offer clarifications on basic facts, especially matters regarding Chai Ling.
In the media circle, there are many unfair comments regarding Chai Ling. One of the examples is the recent event that the student government president of Hong Kong University called Chai Ling took the lead to run away first.
There are many others, is about the language said was quoted in the Gate to heavenly Peace documentary, its main meaning was "we are leaving, let others to shed blood" etc. In the past many years, whenever I got an opportunity to give speeches or public announcements, whenever this matter was mentioned, I always emphases, the media is extremely unfair to Chai Ling. In the 20th anniversary, I must come out to defend her again.
First of all, one should not be judged based on one sentence; this should be the basic common sense. Chai ling was a young woman then. She took the Command in Chief responsibility at Tiananmen; it goes without saying how much effort she had done to help push China's democracy movement. During the whole 1989 student movement, Chai ling had done so much work. How can we erase all her contributions base on one sentence?
Secondly, even Chai Ling said languages such as "I want to live" etc, first of all, these languages should be interpreted within the context, not singled out to misled public opinion. Chai Ling's whole speech last a few hours, how can we draw conclusion base on few sentences? Secondly, as a commander-in-chief of Tiananmen Square, Chai ling was facing enormous pressure, it is hard for many of us to imagine and appreciate. Let alone when learned students was killed, the naturally sensitive Chai ling, said something that that maybe perceived as extreme, this should be understandable, rather than make judgment against her, treat her with extreme unfairness.
Thirdly, which is also the most important one is that many criticized Chai Ling "let others shed blood and I want to live", but they all forgot a most basic fact that, no matter what Chai ling said, in reality, she was truly among the last group withdraw from the Square. This fact is supported by many photos, videos, and thousands of students' witnesses. The standard to judge one's integrity should be based on words or action, isn't this a simple question? I wonder why those who accuse her chose not to mention the fact that she was among the last to leave the Square.
At the end I want to say that in recent years, some people were also unkind to Chai ling's less frequent visit to democracy movement. Let us think about this, Chai Ling, who once led the entire Tiananmen student movement, not only was forced to live in exile, could not go back to China to visit her home, but also suffered because so many unfair, unkind, and unjust comments from the general public, including some hateful attack and personal insults, how sad and sorrow she might have felt? I read many comments about her, I felt so strong that even those who had open fired murders have not treated Chai ling with such cruelty. Where is justice in this world?! We have no business to criticize her for her withdraw, if I was treated so unfairly, I may not able to withstand too long.
I am not saying everything Chai Ling has done is without errors. But I believe we should treat Chai Ling with much fairness. I defend Chai Ling, not because we were once comrade, in fact, we have not had any contact in the past 4 to 5 years. I defend her as a historian; I don't wish individual to be treated with unfairness.