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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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Civil courage

the strength of human dignity

Genocide cases and extreme circumstances of human rights violations, persecutions and deprivation of freedom have occurred all over the world. Those who find the courage to oppose, safeguard their own moral integrity, assessing the duty of truth, reporting the crimes against humanity and struggling to defend the founding value of civil coexistence can be defined as Righteous peopleJournalists like Sihem Bensedrine in Tunisia and writers like Gao Xingjian in China, diplomats like Enrico Calamai in Argentina and artists like Sunila Abeysekera in Sri Lanka, students like Bo Kyi in Burma and (union) activists or politicians like Maria Elena Moyano in Peru, Guillermo Chen in Guatemala, Fannie Lou Hamer in the USA, scientists, lawyers, doctors, intellectuals like Vassili Nesterenko in Belarus, Sylvie Maunga Mbanga in Congo, Halima Bashir in Darfur, Hashem Aghajari in Iran. Not to forget the prominent female figures advocating the rights of women trampled on in many world areas, like Betty Makoni in Zimbawe, Hawa Aden Mohamed in Somalia,  Khalida Toumi Messaoudi in Algeria,  Lydia Chaco in Mexico.
As well as the best-known advocates of human and civil rights like Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma, Anna Politkovskaja in Russia, Orhan Pamuk in Turkey, Natasha Kandic in Serbia and Svetlana Broz in Bosnia, Ayaan Hirsi Ali from Somalia, the mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina. 

Featured story

Norma Cruz

women’s rights activist and former guerrilla fighter