MIT rally backs Beijing students, part 2
(By Niraj S. Desai)
Hundreds of people gathered outside the MIT Student Center yesterday to express their solidarity with Beijing students whose pro-democracy movement was brutally suppressed by Chinese troops over the weekend.
Yesterday's demonstration, organized by the Greater Boston branch of the United Association of Chinese Students in the United States, drew students from a large number of area universities as well as from members of the Chinese-American community. Among the speakers were Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn.
The one-and-a-half hour protest was very emotional and was often punctuated by chants, in both English and Chinese, from the crowd. "Long live democracy," "George Bush, speak out" and "Deng Xiaoping, go to hell" were some of the slogans they used. Deng is China's senior leader and was an instrumental figure behind Sunday's crackdown.
Communist troops pushed into Beijing's Tiananmen Square in the early morning hours (late Saturday EST) with orders to disperse students and workers who had occupied the square for three weeks. The civilians were calling for democratic reforms to China's government and an end to corruption. The Associated Press reported that at least 500 civilians were slaughtered in the army assault.
Despite continued gunfire, hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians returned to the streets of Beijing yesterday to protest the government's crackdown, according to AP reports. As many as 200,000 troops are reported to be gathered en masse on the outskirts of the city.
Kerry, Flynn express
outrage at assault
"The hearts of all freedom-loving people have to be struck by the events that have taken place in Tiananmen Square," Kerry told the Student Center crowd yesterday. He compared the suffering of the Chinese students to those killed at the Boston Massacre, saying the events in China would spur on future efforts to achieve reforms.
"The blood that was shed in that square will not be ... lost without a useful purpose having been [served by the sacrifice]," Kerry pledged.
Kerry promised the crowd that he would seek to ensure that no Chinese student in the United States would be forced to return to the People's Republic of China even if his visa was about to expire. "We cannot do business as usual with a government" that kills its own citizens, Kerry said.
The United States should cease arms transactions with the Chinese government, and President Bush and the United Nations should denounce the government's action, Kerry argued.
Flynn told the demonstrators that he wanted them to know that "in your time of trouble, the people of Boston will stand with you." The communist government's action was an "assault and an affront" to all Americans, he said.
Flynn will leave soon to attend a meeting in South Carolina of the nation's mayors. He said he would introduce a resolution advocating that the United States break off relations with China until the violence ends. "The US cannot and should not pick and choose" which countries can get away with violating human rights.
Chinese students in US
"All Chinese around the world who do not wish to be slaves unite and overthrow the fascist oligarchy," one student speaker urged yesterday. His sentiments were echoed by the other speakers who denounced the Chinese government, led by Deng and Prime Minister Li Peng, in extremely harsh language.
"We are here to show our support to the students in Beijing," said Luo Zhexi, who introduced speakers at yesterday's event, in an interview afterwards. "We couldn't bear it any longer," he said, and felt they should speak out in support of their counterparts in China.
"We worked overnight" to get the Student Center demonstration organized, Luo said. Chinese and Chinese-American students from all over the United States staged similar demonstrations over the weekend.
Luo, a postdoctoral associate at Harvard University, said the organizers had two major goals: to provide moral support from the Greater Boston area to the Beijing students, and to help fund the efforts of the Independent Student Association in Beijing.
The May 4 Foundation, recently founded by a group of local students to raise funds for students in China, collected donations after yesterday's demonstration.
Boston area students and members of the Chinese-American community are expected to converge on Washington today for a major show of support for the Beijing pro-democracy movement.