Thursday, May 21, 2009

This Day in 1989: May 21, Li Lu Stages his Wedding at Tiananmen Square

After failed to enter the city two nights earlier, the martial law troops stayed put on their routes surrounded by students and residents. On May 21, 1989, the city of Beijing returned to a strange normal. Martial law was in effect only on paper. There appeared to be no authoritative governance in the city.

Power vacuum also existed within the ranks of the students. With the end of hunger strike, the Hunger Strike Headquarters was now defunct. There was no clear leadership among the current sit-in at the Square, although Wang Chaohua was making headway with her long-forgotten Beijing Students Autonomous Federation. Seeing the chaotic situation, she felt that her first priority was to find a way for student to withdraw from the Square and end the dangerous standoff. In a meeting of student representatives from 50 colleges in Beijing, she found a clear majority supporting her view.

Yet the chaos at the Square produced one of the more memorable scenes in 1989. Li Lu and his girlfriend staged a wedding at the base of the Monument to People's Heroes, flanked by Chai Ling, Feng Congde, and Zhang Boli. The "new couple" marched and danced around the Square, bringing a surreal happiness to the anxious crowd.

Not too long after the wedding, these former leaders of the hunger strike decided it was time for them to leave, as rumors of a bloody push by the martial law troops that night became more and more credible. They divided up the fund and gave each leader 200 RMB and sneaked out the Square. All except for Li Lu, who decided to stay himself.

Outside of Tiananmen Square, concerned individuals were also springing into action. Hu Jiwei, a high-rank official who was then a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, was pushing for a signature drive among his colleagues to open an emergency session of the committee to discuss the legitimacy of the martial law. He was assisted by intellectuals such as Cao Siyuan and Zhou Dou, as well as the private Stone Corp.

Wang Juntao, on the other hand, was mobilizing all his friends and connections to establish a new
leadership structure that went beyond the students. He envisioned an all-inclusive entity to coordinate the workers, residents, intellectuals, students, and alike to steer and strength the movement.

Days of 1989

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