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Fourth June Elegies

anniversary of Tiananmen square

On 4 June 1989 the Chinese Communist Party cracked down heavily on the peaceful student demonstrations that were taking place in Tiananmen square to demand democracy and human rights. 
Every year since then, whether from house arrest, jail or labour camp, Peace Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo has written a poem in honour of the victims of the deadly clampdown. Here's an example of his poetry:

Even if I know
death's a mysterious unknown
being alive, there's no way to experience death
and once dead
cannot experience death again
yet I'm still
hovering within death
a hovering in drowning . . .

The founder of Charter 08, who is serving a 11-year jail term for his pro-democratic activism, published a book with these poems, Elegies of Fourth June. In it he expresses his human and political ideas, his sense of guilt for being unable to rescue the people killed or maimed in the repression, and his awareness of struggling against an "inhumane power". 

In China this topic is taboo. Even people who still report serious injuries inflicted by the Chinese police are compelled to find excuses with their younger relatives if they ask them to explain the reasons why they are crippled. Even poets have to find a way out censorship. 

6 June 2013

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the Soviet labour camps

GULag is the acronym, introduced in 1930, of Gosudarstvennyj Upravlenje Lagerej (General Direction of the lagers).
In 1918, with the beginning of civil war, the Soviet system created a broad network of concentration camps for the political opponents of the newly created Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (the USSR). In 1919 the Soviets created the forced labour division. Forced labour was designed to socially redeem the detainees according to the very Soviet constitution. Besides the economic and punishment function, some lagers also worked in order to murder the deportees.

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