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NY Times
03-06-09, 17:31
June 4, 2009
Former Activist Surrenders in Macau
By SHARON LaFRANIERE

BEIJING — One of the principal student leaders of the 1989 pro-democracy movement flew Wednesday from Taiwan to the Chinese territory of Macau, saying he wanted to surrender to Chinese authorities after two decades in exile.

The former student leader, Wu’er Kaixi, was detained by immigration authorities at the Macau airport on the evening before the 20th anniversary of a bloody military crackdown in Beijing. He told several news agencies that he would return to Taiwan only if he was deported.

“His action is kind of an expression of anger and protest,” said Wang Dan, another former student leader, now living in the United States.

“Maybe this is his only way to return to China. For all of us, this is the only way.”

In a statement, Mr. Wu’er said his effort to turn himself in was “in no way whatsoever an acknowledgement of guilt in the eyes of the law.”

The statement continued: “I have made this decision because China will not let me return and my parents are prohibited from traveling abroad. I have not seen them in 20 years. China refused to engage in dialogue and I am hopeful that a trial at least would be a resumption of dialogue of some sort.” It described Mr. Wu’er as second on a list of the 21 most wanted student leaders.

The Chinese government has continued to enforce strict security throughout Beijing, the capital, aiming to head off any public commemoration of the protests in Tiananmen Square that led to hundreds of deaths on June 4, 1989. Popular Internet services like Twitter and Hotmail have been blocked. Prominent dissidents have been detained; others have been confined to their homes or forced to leave town by the police.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a harsh statement calling on China to account for those killed in the Tiananmen Square protests.

“A China that has made enormous progress economically, and that is emerging to take its rightful place in global leadership, should examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal,” she said in a statement. “This anniversary provides an opportunity for Chinese authorities to release from prison all those still serving sentences in connection with the events surrounding June 4, 1989.”

In 1989, Mr. Wu’er was 21 years old, and one of a handful of student representatives who met with Li Peng, then China’s prime minister, at the height of the protests. On national television, he scolded China’s Mr. Li for failing to address the students’ demands.

In a recent interview, Mr. Wu’er told BBC News that while he is extremely proud of the pro-democracy movement, he also feel some regret at its outcome.

“If I had known the result would be so bloody, would I still have done the same?” he asked. “Perhaps not.”


Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/world/asia/04china.html

BBC News
03-06-09, 17:36
Tiananmen figures: Student leader

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45820000/jpg/_45820384_wuerkaixi_226.jpg

Wu'er Kaixi was a 21-year-old student at Beijing Normal University when he played a leading role in the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

Twenty years later, living in Taiwan, he remains a leading advocate for democracy in China.

His regular blog on Chinese politics attracts several hundred daily readers - 60% of whom are people in China who manage to get around government internet blocks.

He was among a handful of student representatives to attend an unprecedented meeting with then-Premier Li Peng - unprecedented not only because a Chinese leader had bowed to public pressure, but also because Wu'er Kaixi was shown on national television rebuking Mr Li for not having addressed students' demands.

This, says Wu'er Kaixi, helped Chinese people see themselves as equal to their leaders.

“ If I had known the result would be so bloody, would I have still done the same? The answer is perhaps no ”

But Wu'er Kaixi has mixed emotions looking back on the events that followed - when hundreds, perhaps thousands of people were killed by Chinese soldiers sent in by the government.

"It was one of the best organised student movements and I'm very proud to have been part of it - even prouder to have been one of the organisers," he said.

"The demands we made - anti-corruption, press freedom, protection of private property rights and free market economy - Chinese people recognised these and they stood behind us."

But he continued: "If I had known the result would be so bloody, would I have still done the same? The answer is perhaps not.

"There was no way for us at that time to anticipate such a tragic human loss.

"If I could be sent back in time, knowing what we know today, could I have done a better job? Most definitely."

Rapid change

Despite the bloodshed,Wu'er Kaixi strongly believes the students' efforts were not in vain.

After the Tiananmen massacre, China was internationally isolated, its people no longer believed in the Communist Party and were more sceptical of the government, Wu'er Kaixi says.

The Party realised it needed a new way to legitimise its rule and was forced to undertake changes - allowing free market reforms and protecting property rights.

“ I don't see how the Chinese Communist Party can run this country as an authoritarian regime for long ”

Wu'er Kaixi says he is optimistic that he will one day be able to return to China to see his aging parents, whom he has not seen since his 20s when he went into hiding after being listed as one of China's "Most Wanted".

He is convinced that China has no other way to go but towards democracy.

"Things change fast. Look at the direction of China in the last 20 years, it's moving toward citizen awareness. It's inevitable.

"For thousands of years, Chinese people have considered themselves as subjects, not citizens. That has changed, especially after 1989. And that brings me hope for going back," he says.

"If there are one billion citizens there and they consider themselves citizens, I don't see how the Chinese Communist Party can run this country as an authoritarian regime for long."

Wu'er Kaixi was speaking to the BBC's Cindy Sui in Taiwan.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/asia-pacific/8066724.stm

Published: 2009/05/28 18:23:47 GMT

© BBC MMIX

Telegraph UK
04-06-09, 02:29
Tiananmen Square 'ringleader' detained in Macau

Two decades after his defiance made him the the second most-wanted ringleader of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, Wuer Kaixi is fighting deportation from Macau and insisting he wants to return to his homeland.


By Julian Ryall
Published: 6:30AM BST 04 Jun 2009

Wuer marked the 20th anniversary of the crackdown in a holding cell in the Chinese territory after immigration officials denied him entry to turn himself in.

"China will not let me return and my parents are prohibited from travelling abroad," Wuer said in a letter shortly before he left Taiwan, where he now lives. "I have not seen them in 20 years."

Denied permission to enter Macau at the airport on Wednesday, authorities in the special administrative region told reporters they were planning to put him on a flight back to Taiwan at the first opportunity. Wuer has stated that he will resist any attempt to force him to leave, although he is fully aware that he faces prosecution in Beijing for his activities in June 1989.

He remains on the list of 21 student dissidents that Beijing identified as the ringleaders of the Tiananmen protests two decades ago.

Now 41 and living in Taipei, he has been told that China will never grant him amnesty and that he can never go home.

"I went to Hong Kong in 2004 to mark the 15th anniversary of Tiananmen Square and I thought that as I had been granted permission to the Special Administrative Region then maybe the most wanted list had expired," Wuer told The Daily Telegraph before he attempted to enter Macau.

"But they got word to me that as far as I was concerned, the warrant would never expire."

He last saw his parents shortly before he was smuggled out of Beijing after the students' movement had been crushed by tanks and machine guns on the night of 3rd and 4th of June, although he is now able to communicate with them relatively unhindered via the Internet.

"I'm past the sad phase now and I'm just very angry," he says.

"Living as an exile is tormenting and impossible for anyone who has not experienced it to understand.

"At first, I felt hatred for the regime, but that soon passed as hatred can bring no good," he said. "But the anger is there every day.

Sometimes I can't control it but I have to learn to live with it.

"There is also the guilt I feel as a survivor."

The estimates of the number who died varies from the Chinese government's position that there were no deaths in the square - and avoids the question of those killed in surrounding streets in the capital - and body counts provided by underground groups that put the figure as high as 5,000.

Wuer knows that he was very fortunate to avoid both being killed and a lengthy prison term. Many of the 20 other students on the list have served repeated jail sentences.

A member of the Uighur minority from the far west of China, he was in his first year and studying education administration at Beijing Normal University, one of the top three institutions in the country, when the unrest started.

Students had initially wanted to mark the death on April 15 of Hu Yaobang, the former party secretary general, who had been in favour of political liberalisation and economic reforms. The protests grew, posters deriding the Communist Party's leaders appeared throughout the city and crowds began to gather in Tiananmen Square.

Disorganised they sought a leader, which was when Wuer stepped forward.

"People were starting to get impatient. They were saying we were all cowards, that we were impotent," he said. "I realised that I was cursing myself. My personality would not allow that, so I shouted 'Make way' and I stood on the base of a monument.

"I had no idea what I was going to say, I had no microphone and I was not prepared for the moment at all," he said. "But then I saw a red light at the back of the crowd and I knew I was being filmed by the authorities. And I knew what I had to say.

"I shouted out my name, my class and my course. The crowd roared because that was enough to have defied the authorities."

Through April and May the protests grew and the Chinese government appeared increasingly paralysed. Sensing their demands might be met, several of the protesters - including Wuer - began a hunger strike. Admitted to hospital, he returned to the square when the Chinese premier, Li Peng, agreed to talk with the demonstrators.

Still dressed in his hospital gown, Wuer interrupted Li Peng's speech live on national television, earning himself instant fame with those who advocated reform but the longer-lasting enmity of the regime.

Initially there were signs that the unrest was going to spread across the country, but he says he knew that the announcement of martial law on May 20 signalled that the government had chosen its course of action and that a crackdown was imminent.

"June 3rd and 4th were the darkest days in Chinese history," he said. "They sent troops with live ammunition and tanks against unarmed and peaceful petitioners. And even if no-one had died, it was still a brutal and inhumane thing to do."

He says he heard gunfire, saw tanks ramming buses that had been set up as makeshift barricades and hospitals with floors soaked in blood.

But he does not like to talk about those memories.

For the next three days, he sank into a despairing torpor, not wanting to talk to anyone or consider the protestors' plight. Friends urged him to leave the city as it might be in the interests of the government for the People's Liberation Army not to catch him alive.

The release of the 21 names on the government's most wanted list was enough to convince him to go, and he fled with a group of close friends on June 15th. Passing hundreds of wanted posters bearing his face, it took Wuer Kaixi five days to get to Hong Kong, where his presence was acknowledged by the British authorities and he was helped by the French consulate, and a further five days to get to Paris.

After studying in Paris and at Harvard University, he moved to Taipei in 1996, married a Taiwanese woman and became a citizen in 1999. He has two sons, aged 14 and 10, and has been an outspoken radio talk show host and consultant for international companies.

Now, he invests his money in start-up companies and works for a US-based investment fund. But he is still in touch with the 20 other men and women who have been on Beijing's most wanted list.

"China is a very different place today," he said. Our movement should take the credit for forcing the country to gradually open up after the 1989 massacre."

With the introduction of a free market and acknowledgement of property rights, the regime has adopted measures the students had sought.

And while Chinese have more disposable income and a higher standard of living than they could have dreamed of two decades ago, the inevitable next thing they will seek is the right to express their free will, Wuer Kaixi believes.

"Democracy is still the most essential element that is missing in China today," he said. "They have high economic growth, but they cannot stop the internet."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/5440965/Tiananmen-Square-ringleader-detained-in-Macau.html