….wild is the wind…creative freedom is the seed….
Forewords by Cecilia Yu (translator) to explain Context : In the Chinese Culture we have what is similar to the “All Souls’ Day” to commemorate those who died. But we also have what is called “Return of the Souls” for those who experienced grave injustices resulting in their deaths.This year’s Hong Kong protest 2019 against an inequitable Extradition Bill, coincided with the 2nd Legacy Memorial of Liu Xiao Bo ‘s death, I was asked to translate a few words about the event in an effort to remember what Liu’s life and Nobel Peace Prize winning ideas represented.
This is relevant to Hong Kong 2019’s protest because peaceful protesters in Hong Kong were attacked by Police with tear gas and rubber bullets; their brutality reminded many Hong Kong citizens of the way Tiananmen Peaceful Student Protestors were slaughtered by the Communist Chinese Government in 1989. Many Hong Kong citizens do not trust China’s Communist Party in the proposed changes to Extraditions Laws in Hong Kong, as this would allow political dissenters of China’s governance, who are residing in Hong Kong, to be extradited to potential harsh and draconian punishments inside Mainland China.
An example of legal inequity would be: According to the laws of China, some Christians can be sentenced to 7 years in prison for merely praying peacefully at home as a part of a church that has not been state sanctioned. Basic Laws in Hong Kong protect Freedom of Religion under the “One China; Two Systems” treaty but inside Mainland China, their legal system are much more draconian in parameters, and are designed to punish those whose ideas deviate from official Communist Party lines.
Some people asked me why I agreed to translate as they worried about the implication to my reputation given the unpredictable and capricious way China punished its own citizens. For sure we are all uncomfortable with how Beijing quashed many expressions of innovative ideas, even if one was a multi-generational Hong Kong overseas educated Chinese! But Hong Kong has a historic reputation in handling such difficult issues in the last three centuries. We can handle it!
My genuine response is: ” Every so often in China’s history, different surnames have the luxury of helping a seemingly losing side in order to make sure we have different facets of history to pass on to the next generation. I am exercising that privilege on the issue of the first chinese person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. If I am wrong, and this issue should simply be forgotten, then I will simply and happily admit to it later when it is clear that I might have erred. However if I am right and I hope I stay on “the right humanitarian side of history” , then Silk Road 3 would have to adjust its shape a little, based on some of the small decisions made by the silent, ordinary and at times, very ancient surnames of China, who are “made in Hong Kong”.
Doctor Sun speaking about a Chinese Republic at Hong Kong University
Some Chinese people might, in the future, like their children to know about Hong Kong’s wonderful history e.g. when we refused to hand Doctor Sun Yat Sen back to the Qing dynasty Emperor just because they did not like what he had to say about the way China governed under Imperial rules. Like Dr Sun, many of us spent time studying overseas but maintained our valued Chinese heritage all over the known world.
China’s long history definitely changed because of the new ideas of the many overseas Chinese worldwide, in the way our education brought new interactions with those inside China. Overseas or not, we are all Chinese with a shared history of 6000 years. If I am wrong about why we should protect unpopular ideas like those of Doctor Sun’s then those who are right should find my descendants in 300 years time and let them know why my ideas about the Doctor Sun’s Republic or Liu’s Nobel Peace Prize were flawed!
Thank you for a Chinese culture in Hong Kong that allowed the next generation to decide and adjudicate, the good things and the bad things we did collectively as a Chinese culture. I am honoured to be a part of such a long lineage of Chinese in the world and proud that Hong Kong refused to hand Doctor Sun back to the Qing dynasty for torture and execution a century ago. That choice should not be taken away from Hong Kong through changing our legally sound extradition laws that were designed by the decent men and women of Hong Kong, over a period of 300 years, to give us an option to protect individuals who may face tortures and certain deaths for exploring new ideas! “
“Forgotten Souls” are two words that permeated throughout the poetry and writing of the Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo. After Tiananmen Student Protest of 4th June 1989 (commonly abbreviated as 64 in chinese in order to bypass censorship inside the Great Firewall of China) embarked on a path of no return, and on many levels, he gave his life for the “Forgotten Souls” of Tiananmen massacre (many of whom remained nameless and forgotten).
In 2010, Liu was imprisoned by the Chinese CCP Government and found out that he won the Nobel Peace Prize while detained. In that moment, with tears in his eyes, he said to his wife Liu Xia, “This prize is dedicated to the forgotten souls of 64.”
Today, Liu Xiaobo became another “forgotten soul of 64″. Liu once said, ” In the depth of Hopelessness, the only thing that gave me hope is to remember those forgotten souls (who sacrificed their lives).” He also said that at this historic juncture, all we can do is to remember the forgotten souls in order to seek truth and justice (for their slaughter).
Below is a short poem from Liu Xiaobo , about “Tiananmen Massacre”:
“Those who seeked freedom are dead and gone,
Forgotten souls lost in the midst of the struggle,
Those who negate freedom (to all) live on,
Lost souls died in turmoil and horror.
Faced with extremes, all seemed empty
Pity those who faced (man’s) violent nature,
with their special kind of inner strength,
(brutality) failed to dissuade,
(because) they carry in their hearts an inner Torch,
lighting the way for a brighter future.”
照亮一條路——劉曉波〈六四17周年祭〉——–Poem by Liu Xiaobo (written to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the Tiananmen Massacre)
【一個國家囚徒】 On being a Prisoner of Conscience in China:
In 30 years of lobbying for Democratic reforms, Liu was imprisoned on 4 separate occasions, summarily serving 15 years in jail:
* From 6th June 1989 to January 1991 he was fired from his job and jailed for participating in the 1989 protest on the (euphemistically described) crimes of “passing the Counter-Revolutionary torch (against the Chinese Communist Party led government).
* From May 1995 to Jan 1996, he was jailed for the second time, for suggesting a peaceful protest about the events of 64 (Tienanmen massacre).
* From Oct 1996 to Oct 1999, Liu was jailed for the third time for expressing his opinions about the State sanctioned guidelines that addressed the issue of Taiwan and China, from the historic points of view of the two armies during the modern Chinese Civil War. When Liu was released, he continued to publish papers and ideas asking CCP Government to amend their (what Liu believed was) erroneous positions.
* From Dec 2008, Liu was arrested for the fourth time for drafting Charter’08 (the document about civil rights and governance that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize at a later date). On the 25th Dec 2009, he was charged with “Betrayal of Chinese National Interest” and sentenced to jail for 11 years. His written work “Charter’08” and 6 other publications were deemed “Unorthodox” and therefore Illegal under the Law of the People’s Republic of China.
【一生懺悔贖罪】Sacrificing his life for a Just Cause…
After the student protest in 1989, Liu Xiaobo was interviewed at Columbia University in the USA about his participation in various protests inside China.
On 2nd June 1989, he and three other colleagues engaged in a hunger strike for Democratic reform; they were nicknamed “The Four Noblemen”.
On the night of 3rd June, orders were given out for the army to enter the city, the four urged many students to scatter and dispel in order to mitigate the size of the bloodshed from Government violence against protesters.
After the slaughter of protesters on the 4th June, Liu hid for two days to avoid arrest, then he went to the Australian Embassy for help as his life was threatened. By 6th June, he tried to return home and was arrested en route.
【一張空凳典禮】An empty Chair for a Nobel Peace Laureate….
On the 8th October 2010, Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo in recognition for “his lifelong peaceful effort in upholding and the protection of basic Human Rights in China”.
At the award ceremony on the 10th December 2010 in Norway, Nobel Peace Laureate Liu’s absence was symbolically highlighted by An Empty Chair, placed on the stage for the world to see. It was a moving and rare image in the long history of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.
When Liu passed away in 2017, the Chairperson of the Nobel Peace Prize committee expressed his regret by saying, ” We understand his (Liu’s) chair will forever remain empty.” Liu Xiaobo’s death became, like his predecessor Carl von Ossietzky, another Nobel Peace Laureate who died tragically in prison.
同年12月10日，挪威奧斯陸市政廳莊嚴的台上，一張無人的椅子，一場主角缺席的頒獎禮，造就了諾貝爾和平獎史上最動人也最令人遺憾的一幕。劉曉波離世後，諾貝爾委員會主席安德森發表聲明悼念，「我們明白到這張凳將永遠留空（his chair will forever remain empty）」。
劉曉波成為繼納粹德國時期和平主義者奧西艾茲基（Carl von Ossietzky）後，在押死亡的另一位和平獎得主。
【一場死亡直播】Events leading to Liu’s death…
On the 26th June 2017, an announcement was made by the Prison in charge of Liu’s detention that he had liver cancer.
The international community of the world urged the Chinese Government to allow Liu to travel overseas to seek expert medical treatment but the Government refused without giving any reasons.
The world watched as Liu’s life slowly ebbed away. On the 13th July, Liu died from his illness and within three days his remains were ceremoniously cremated and his ashes scattered to the sea; some believed that the expedient cremation and the disposal of his remains in such a way that it left no tomb stone, was Chinese authorities’ way of preventing any protest in Liu’s name. Indeed, by scattering his ashes into the ocean, it was a way to “bury his legacy”; hoping he will be forgotten in chinese history.
【一份無盡的愛】Aspiring to Great Universal Love of Humanitarian values ….
A year after Liu Xiaobo’s death, his wife Liu Xia (who was under house arrest for as many years as he was jailed in prison) was given permission to travel to Germany by the Chinese Government. But her tortured soul finds it hard to accept the circumstances of her husband’s death.
After 11 years of being punished by association, Liu Xia suffered many symptoms of psychological and physical turmoils such as heart problems, acute depression and extreme stress from the jailing of her brother (also for 11 years). All sentences to Liu Xia and Brother of Liu were “punishment by associations” ie. they committed no crime of their own.
Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo wrote in his book titled “I have no enemy: My final testimony” he expressed his love and his regret to his wife Liu Xia. He wrote, “Even if I was grounded down (by oppression) into dust, my ashes would still embrace and comfort you.” But he also expressed a desire for a love that transcended beyond spouse and family. Liu wrote, ” My wish is that I can transcend my own extra-ordinary, personal experience of my country, in order to affect protective changes for all future Chinese societies & civilisation. I would like to use the greatest of compassion, love and kindness to dissolve the hostile and aggressive control of an autocratic government.”
Upon hearing of Liu’s death, the Mother of one who was slaughtered at Tiananmen massacre, Professor Ding Zilin said (of Liu), “Aspiring to and Attaining a greater universal love is an incomparable achievement, above all others.”
End of Translation.
To/From Cecilia Messages: