Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Wang Dan”

A Jasmine Revolution?

My previous two posts about a Chinese revolution quickly focused in on human rights infringements. As the world’s biggest country watched events unfold in the Middle East, journalists, activists, and other human rights defenders braced themselves for the inevitable crackdown. Radio Free Asia claims that a greater presence of security and surveillance are being observed as China approaches the approach of the 22nd anniversary. Increasing numbers of plain-clothes policemen (how plain-clothed are they if they are so easily identifiable?) not only around the square but in the suburbs surrounding Beijing.

                                                                                       Liang Haiyi

Many people have been detained in recent months facing charges of “inciting subversion. One of the first activists who is clearly connected to trying to raise a “Jasmine Revolution” is Liang Haiyi. Inspired by the regime changes in Egypt and Tunisia, Liang has reposted information from dissident websites hosted outside China regarding plans to protest in China, and has been arrested for her efforts.

One of the people trying to help Liang is Wang Dan, the exiled leader of the 1989 Tiananmen student protests who along with Amnesty International is trying to help free her.

Wang Dan making his famous speech in 1989

China is one of the greatest nations in the history of civilization. I am not personally convinced that China must embrace democracy. There are many aspects of a one-party system that might be advantageous over our political system. But if China really believes in the principles it stands for, then it shouldn’t be afraid of a minority dissenting.

Throwing someone in jail is the action of a frightened oligarchy clinging to power. China deserves better leadership.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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