On May 13, 1989, a couple of hundreds college students in Beijing launched a hunger strike. There were many statements and open letters published on that day announcing the event. But none was more passionate and moving than the Hunger Strike Manifesto below. The document was written based on a spontaneous speech by Chai Ling on the night before, which inspired most of those who participated in the hunger strike.
In this bright and sunny May, we go on a hunger strike. At the best moment of our young lives, we have to resolutely leave everything nice behind. But how we don't want to, how we are not willing!
However, the country has reached this moment: the inflation is rampant, the corruption is raging, the authoritarian is powerful, the bureaucracy is rotten, large quantities of people with high learning and integrity has drifted overseas, social order and security is deteriorating day by day. At this life-and-death moment of our people's survival, fellow countrymen, all fellow countrymen with conscious, peoples listen to our cry!
The country, is our country.
The people, is our people.
The government, is our government.
If we don't shout, who will?
If We don't act, who will?
Our shoulders are still tender. Death still seems too heavy for us. But we go on. But we have to go on. History has so called upon us.
Our patriotic emotions are the purest. Our hearts and souls are the most loyalist. But they have been labeled as "turmoil," as "with ulterior motives," as "instigated and used by a few."
We would like to ask all upright citizens of this country, ask every worker, peasant, soldier, resident, intellectual, celebrity, official, police, and those who had made up the labels for us, place your hand over your heart and ask your conscious: what crimes had we commit? Did we cause turmoil? We boycott classes. We march and protest. We go on hunger strike. We give our lives. For what? But our emotions have been repeatedly played. We suffer through hunger to pursue the truth, but only got beaten by the soldiers and police. Our representatives knelt down to appeal for democracy, but only got ignored. Our requests for an equal dialog are being delayed again and again. Our student leaders are facing grave danger...
What can we do?
Democracy is the highest survival emotion of life. Freedom is the endowed human rights by birth. But we have to achieve them with the exchange of our young lives. Could this be the pride of Chinese people?
Hunger strike is the last resort. It is also the resort we have to take.
We are fighting for life with the spirit of death.
But we are still kids, we are still kids! The Mother China, please take a good look at your sons and daughters. Hunger is ruthlessly destroying their youth. As death is approaching, would you be able to stand by untouched?
We don’t want to die. We want to live nicely, because we are at the most beautiful age of our lifetime; We don't want to die. We want to study hard, because our motherland is still so poor and we can't just die like this and leave her behind. Death is definitely not our desire. But if the death of one or a few could make the lives of many better, make the motherland rich and prosper, then we have no right to shamelessly live.
Fathers and mothers, don't feel sad when we are hungry. Uncles and aunts, don't be heartbroken when we die. We have only one wish, that the lives of everyone will be better. We have only one request, that you do not forget that death is absolutely not our desire! Because democracy is not just an issue of a few. Because It can not be achieved by only one generation.
Death, is expecting a widest and most persistent echo.
As a person is approaching death, his words would become kind; as a bird is approaching death, its cry would become solemn.
Good bye, my fellow students, take care! The departed holds the same loyalty as the ones alive.
Good bye, my love, take care! I can't bear to leave you, yet I have to bid farewell.
Good Bye, my parents! Please forgive me, your child could not fulfill our duties to both you and the country.
Good Bye, my People! Please allow us pay our loyalty in such an unnatural manner.
Our pledge, written with our lives, will eventually brighten the ski of the Republic!
Documents of 1989
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