Thursday, April 23, 2009

This Day in 1989: April 23

After the dramatic action at the funeral, Sunday, April 23, 1989, was a day of rest for most students. As their kneeling petition was ignored by the government, a consensus decision was made to launch a city-wide class strike in the coming weeks. Also on this day, General Secretary Zhao Ziyang left China for a pre-scheduled state visit to North Korea, leaving the domestic matters to Premier Li Peng.

At Peking University, Shen Tong and his friends rigged up a couple of loudspeakers outside of his dorm window at The Triangle and connected them with microphones and broadcasting equipments. The makeshift setup would grow into the very first makeshift student media center. Taking advantage of the set up, famed intellectual Chen Mingyuan (陈明远) delivered a passionate speech supporting students. The speech was recorded and duplicated with audiotapes and helped to inspire many more students into joining the movement.

Liu Gang spent the entire day to round up emerging student leaders he had privately identified from each campus and ushered them into his residence at Yuanmingyuan. In a small conference room that evening, he opened a clandestine meeting to form a new city-wide student organization. Under his guidance, Wuer Kaixi chaired the meeting. The Beijing Students Autonomous Federation was born.

For a hastily organized meeting, not all schools were properly represented. No established student leaders from Peking University attended. On the other hand, University of Political Science and Law demonstrated their strength with the biggest delegation. In a vote for its first president, that school's Zhou Yongjun narrowed beat Wuer Kaixi. They also decided that the presidency would be a rotating one.

Fearing for their safety, the meeting did not last long. In the coming days and weeks, however, the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation would take on a very public role in leading the movement.


Days of 1989


1 comment:

Kim Singh said...

China's genocide in Tianamen Square is being reflected 24 years later in the student protests in Hong Kong and support in Taiwan; both extremely concerned about their future at the hands of a megalomaniacal government which invaded Tibet and annexed it over 50 years ago and till today continues to brutally repress the Tibetian people. Shame on China; a regime en par with the Nazis.