By Jeff Harding
Mr. Sun is a well known advocate for political freedom in the Peoples Republic of China who had the guts to visit the cemetery where a famous figure from the Tiananmen Square rebellion is buried.
I caught this story from the NY Times:
As he left the teacher’s dormitory at Shandong University, he said, a public security officer and about 20 plainclothes officers tried to stop him. “They said, ‘Don’t go there today. So many people are going there. It is dangerous,’ ” he said.
When he got into a taxi, a car followed him, he said. He said he had started down a cemetery path, carrying a banner that read “Condolences for the heroes who died for freedom,” when four or five men jumped him from behind.
He said the attackers lifted him off the ground, threw him into a deep ditch, and kicked and beat him for more than 10 minutes. Other people came to the edge of the ditch, he said, “but nobody tried to help.” Finally, a uniformed officer showed up and called an ambulance, he said.
In the four days he has been in the hospital, the police have not shown up to investigate, he said.
“I still feel very weak. And I think probably my days are numbered. But I don’t feel regret. I am 75 years old and I would be very happy to sacrifice my life for my ideals,” he said.
According to China Human Rights Defenders which published the original story:
Sun, 75, from Rongcheng County in Shandong Province, is a retired professor of physics at Shandong University. Sun has been repeatedly persecuted for voicing dissenting views. In the early 1960s Sun was punished for “leaning towards the Right.” During the Cultural Revolution he was publicly denounced and paraded before being detained in a makeshift prison for 27 months and then in a solitary cell at a detention center for 3 and a half years for “counterrevolutionary crimes” such as criticizing Mao Zedong.
In 1978, Sun was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for submitting articles to the central government criticizing Mao and Hua Guofeng, former premier of China and chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. In 1992, Sun was rehabilitated and he returned to teach at Shandong University.
Sun continued to publish online articles critical of the government and to organize activities to promote human rights and democracy. As part of his activities commemorating the Tiananmen Massacre, Sun has been visiting the local cemetery to express his remembrance of Zhao Ziyang during Qingming Festival every year since Zhao’s death in 2005.
Zhao Ziyang is an important symbolic figure in the freedom movement in China:
[Sun] came to remember Zhao Ziyang, a former prime minister and Communist Party general secretary who lost his party position and his freedom after sympathizing with student-led, pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Mr. Zhao, who died in 2005, is a martyr to some democracy advocates.
June 4 will be the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen and the Party and the State are cracking down heavily on agitators like Mr. Sun. They are afraid of their own people and, although they have allowed many economic reforms and freedoms, they are still a viciously repressive totalitarian regime. You may ask, why don’t they just let the people have political freedoms and join the rest of the world?
That’s not how it works in these regimes. These leaders have a privileged position, and since they serve no useful function in society, their perks would all go away if freedom broke out. It is highly likely that many of the top leaders and local party thugs would lose their heads. They are strongly motivated to retain power
I say that Mr. Sun is one of the bravest and most principled men I have read about. He has, as we say here, cojones. Mr. Sun has put his life on the line for his beliefs. As he said: “In order to fight for democracy, we need to make personal efforts.”
Why isn’t he nominated for the Nobel peace prize? Well, I think you know the answer to that question.