Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This Day in 1989: April 28, First Major Change in BSAF Leadership

April 28, 1989, was a quiet day after the dramatic demonstration the day before. Most students slept in and rested. It was not until the afternoon when campuses came back alive with more Big Posters recounting the excitement. In the official media, a couple of small newspapers broke ranks and reported the demonstration.

In the late afternoon, delegates of the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation convened for a general meeting. They deposed Zhou Yongjun, who as the president had canceled the demonstration in the last minute, and elected the charismatic Wuer Kaixi as the new president. There were other personnel changes in its standing committee as well. Ma Shaofang resigned. Several more were elected into the committee, including Wang Chaohua, a thirty-seven year old female graduate student from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. She would eventually play a critical role in the leadership of this organization.

That night, Wang Dan and Wuer Kaixi held a surprise private press conference of their own at the Shangri-la Hotel in downtown, attended mostly by foreign reporters. They declared that their lives were in danger and would go underground.

At Peking University, the graduate students held a formal meeting and disbanded the official Graduate Student Union following legal procedures. It was one of the rare occasions during the movement that an action such as this was taken in orderly fashion. Feng Congde briefed Beijing Students Autonomous Federation on the development and encouraged other schools to follow suit. Privately, he was upset with Wang Dan and Wuer Kaixi for their behavior in seeking personal publicity.

Days of 1989

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