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After the May 27th decision to leave was overturned by people
like Chai Ling, the students were in a predicament: they couldn't
leave, yet by simply hanging on, the movement was losing its
appeal, and the number of people coming to the Square was
dwindling. In our joint meetings the discussions focused on
how to straighten things out in the Square. The students should
either take the initiative to leave or stay on but improve their
image -- they couldn't afford just to sit there passively.
But none of us could come up with anything practical. So I
thought I might as well go on a hunger strike.
Liu Xiaobo told me, "If we don't join the students in the
Square and face the same kind of danger, then we don't have any
right to speak."
On June 2, Liu Xiaobo and three of his friends set up a tent on the Martyr's Monument and began their hunger strike.
There's no way for me to know whether our hunger strike had
affected the government's decision to launch the bloody
crackdown. If it did, I would feel guilty for the rest of my
From the moment I walked out of the Square, my heart has been
heavy, after all that bloodshed on June 4th. I've never gotten
The four men saw their hunger strike as a chance, maybe the
last chance, to persuade the students to live up to their
democratic goals, and make their own decisions rather than simply
reacting to escalating government threats.
We were making a plea to both the government and the students
to abandon the ideology of class-struggle, to abandon hostile
attitudes and act with greater tolerance. Everyone needed to
examine their own behavior.
Our hunger strike was not a heroic act but a gesture of
repentance for the years of cowardice of Chinese intellectuals.
LIU XIAOBO SPEAKS AT MONUMENT ON JUNE 3
LIU XIAOBO addressing crowd
A major problem with the student movement is that it is obsessed with opposing the government, but unconcerned with practicing democratic principles in its own ranks. To replace a military dictatorship with a student dictatorship would hardly be a victory; it would be a failure, a tragic failure.
We felt that under no circumstances should people involved in
this movement act in secrecy or use underhanded tactics. That's
what our fathers and grandfathers have been doing all along. If
you act like the people you oppose, you'll end up just like them.
And then you'll have to be overthrown. So, what's the point? Why
start a movement in the first place?
HOU LEADS CROWD IN SINGING OF "HEIRS OF THE DRAGON"
The hunger strikers' gesture of humility and restraint had the
paradoxical effect of revitalizing the flagging protest.
Once again the Square filled with thousands of people.
SONG, "HEIRS OF THE DRAGON"
It was a hundred years ago on a quiet night.
The deep dark night before the great changes.
How many years did those gunshots resound?
So many years and so many years more.
Hou Dejian's anthem "Children of the Dragon" was the best
selling pop song ever marketed in China. Everyone knew the words.
Open your eyes.
For now and ever more,
Open your eyes.
I never thought our hunger strike would have such an impact.
Once again the Square was filled with people.
But they hadn't necessarily been attracted by the ideas
expressed in our declaration. I think the majority of them came
because we had gone on a hunger strike, and especially because
the famous rock star, Hou Dejian, was involved.
HOU DEJIAN addresses crowd at Monument on June 3rd
I'm joining this hunger strike not only on my own behalf, but also to represent the pop stars and everyone else at the "Songs for Democracy" concert held in Hong Kong on May 27th.
There was Hou Dejian, wearing his "Songs for Democracy"
T-shirt. He was a real pro in the way he worked the crowd. He'd
call out: "Do you know the singer Deng Lijun?" "Yes!" came the
reply. Then Hou would look for the pop star's signature on his
T-shirt. "Here she is, she's right here!" The crowd went wild.
The four hunger strikers were soon infected themselves by the
intense emotions on Tiananmen Square, the very thing they wanted
During the movement, I was so often divided. In our hunger
strike declaration, I wrote about getting rid of hatred in
politics, and so on. But when I faced that cheering crowd and
felt that we might actually defeat martial law, the voice of
reason left me.
LIU XIAOBO addresses crowd at Monument on June 3rd
Let the world see us in a new light. Who will determine the fate of China? It's the people!
Once you get involved in the actual situation, it was just so
hard to keep a cool head, to know who the hell you are! Facing
the thousands of people who cheered me on, I was completely
carried away. Now here I was, speaking at Tiananmen Square, I
felt that my words could sway the fate of the nation.
SOLDIERS SURROUNDED BY CROWD
Go away! Go away!
In the early hours of June 3rd, army units once again
attempted to get to the Square.
Most of the troops weren't in combat gear, but people were
outraged to find that some were actually armed. Protesters
confiscated guns, cattle prods, cleavers and knives and displayed
them as proof that the government intended to use violence. Then
they turned the weapons over to the city police.
When day came, crowds had stopped busses being used to
transport weapons into the city and were ejecting the soldiers.
Troops stationed in the nearby Great Hall of the People were
ordered out to retake the busses. They too were surrounded and
So the soldiers sat down, and everyone started to sing --
soldiers and protesters each hoping, perhaps, to sing the other
side into submission.
They all sang the same few familiar songs, from the days of
the revolution. They sang "Without the Communist Party, There is
No New China," "The PLA Anthem," and "The Three Disciplines and
Eight Points of Attention."
Pay attention to these eight points.
Be courteous in speech.
Respect the masses. Don't be arrogant.
Don't mistreat prisoners.
No beatings, no insults, Don't search their wallets.
Defend our country!
Forever march forward!
We are supported by the people!
At the fringes of the singing match, nervous soldiers collided
with excited citizens.
They're fighting again! Another one is hurt!
Those hurt rushed to the Square to tell their stories.
MAN WITH HELMET
See this? I was hit by this helmet!
Look at all this blood. This is the helmet.
At day's end, the troops from the Great Hall of the People
were ordered back into the building.
MAN IN CROWD
Long live the People's Liberation Army!
But though the army was apparently retreating once more, a
decision had been made for a full-scale military assault.
7:00 EVENING NEWS ON CCTV, 3 JUNE 1989
CHINESE TV NEWS ANCHOR
Emergency Announcement of the Martial Law Enforcement Troops.
CHINESE TV NEWS ANCHOR
Martial Law Units will take all necessary measures. Those who incite opposition must take the consequences.