Thirty-one years ago, at this exact time, the Chinese Army moved on students peacefully gathering in the symbolic Tiananmen Square, meters away from the mausoleum where Mao Zedong's spoils were resting. In the space of a night, hundreds - if not thousands - of protesters were killed, and the last pro-democracy movement of mainland China was shunned. In memory of this massacre, every year, vigils are held in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and several other places around the world. China severely bans any commemoration on its territory. This dark chapter of the Chinese Communist era is anyway nowhere to be found behind the "great firewall" that blocks Beijing's internet space and is strategically forgotten in the educational curricula.
Because of COVID-19 and politically-motivated bans, this year’s vigil might be disrupted in Hong Kong. At NOW!, we have decided to launch a social media action to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre. We called it #LightACandle, and we have asked members and volunteers to join in, from wherever they are in the world.
Joining a social media campaign will not change the world, but it might make those that survived that massacre, their daughters and sons, and the last fighters for democracy in China less alone. It is a strong signal that people are still willing to stand up to the Chinese dictatorship. Hence, tonight we ask you to #LightACandle to show that no one can silence history. Tonight, we ask you to #LightACandle wherever you live on the planet, because unity can defeat any super-power. Tonight, we ask you to #LightACandle to show that those brave students did not die in vain: the struggle for freedom must go on, in China as elsewhere.
What happened in Tiananmen: The Tiananmen Square protests were student-led demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing during 1989. The students called for greater accountability, constitutional due process, democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech. The protests started on April 15, 1989, and were forcibly suppressed on June 4, at 1 am local time, when the government declared martial law and sent the military to occupy central parts of Beijing. In what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, troops with assault rifles and tanks fired at the demonstrators and those trying to block the military's advance into Tiananmen Square. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more wounded