Happy Lunar New Year from the USC US-China Institute!
Harvard College Students Remembering the Tiananmen Massacre: A Conference for the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Movement
The conference will include student paper panels with faculty members from the university serving as chairs, and cross-generational conversations among students and journalists who covered 1989, student leaders and survivors, and scholars who study the topic.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Movement. In Spring 1989, millions of Chinese took to the streets calling for political reform. The nationwide movement ended on June 4 with the People’s Liberation Army firing on unarmed civilians. Tiananmen remains a politically taboo topic in China today.
The 2014 Tiananmen Conference Student Planning Committee is a group of students at Harvard College hailing from different regions of the world and embodying a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and perspectives. We were not yet born in 1989 but were brought together by a seminar “Rebels with a Cause: Tiananmen in History and Memory” taught by Dr. Rowena He. During our time together, we studied the primary source materials of the Tiananmen Movement, heard personal accounts of student leaders themselves, and explored the Tiananmen archives of the Harvard–Yenching Library. We imagined ourselves into the minds of the authorities and civilians, touched the protesters’ blood-stained clothes, and re-enacted the night of June 3rd, trying to put ourselves in the shoes of the protesters who then were around the same age as we are now. Our learning experience shows that with free access to information and free inquiry, we as young people can indeed come to our own understanding of historical truth.
There have been hundreds of Tiananmen events in the past 24 years all over the world, but we are excited that we as undergraduate students are putting together a conference for the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Movement. Our conference will be held on April 26, a historically important date in 1989 when the first official judgment of the movement was printed in the lead editorial of the Party’s newspaper, the People’s Daily, designating the student demonstrations as premeditated and organized turmoil with anti-Party and anti-socialist motives.
The conference will include student paper panels with faculty members from the university serving as chairs, and cross-generational conversations among students and journalists who covered 1989, student leaders and survivors, and scholars who study the topic. For us college students who were not born in 1989, Tiananmen is history; for the invited speakers, Tiananmen is memory. Invited panelists include survivor Fang Zheng, whose legs were crushed by a tank, journalists Adi Ignatius, Beijing Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal in 1989, Dan Southerland, Beijing Bureau Chief for the Washington Post in 1989, Dinda Elliot, former Beijing Bureau Chief of Newsweek, professor Wu Guoguang, who was speech writer for former premier Zhao Ziyang, and professors Pei Minxin and Arthur Waldron. The conference will end with a performance created by students. Violinist Lynn Chang, a Harvard College alumnus who played at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony (for Liu Xiaobo) will join the performance.
It is our hope that through this forum we may give a voice to those who were silenced and that this voice will help keep the memory of June 4 alive.
Please mark your calendar. More information will be followed soon.
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