The students who protested on Tiananmen Square in June 1989 have gone on to lead lives as writers, teachers, businessmen, doctors, artists. Some have continued being activists. Some have spent most of their time in prison, before dying.
Chen Weiming became a gun-toting member of the Mujahideen army in Syria.
A sculptor by trade, Chen is perhaps best known for recreating the Goddess of Democracy statue, both in Washington DC in 2008 and Hong Kong in 2010 (based off the original 10-meter papier-mache statue erected by students during the 1989 Tiananmen protests). He headed over to Syria in October to do his small part in “toppling tyrannical rule,” as he told NDTV.
How’s he doing? The above video, released two weeks ago, shows a healthy Chen who has most definitely neither forgotten nor forgiven the Chinese government for its 1989 crackdown on students. In fact, he makes it seem that he’s in Syria only as a roundabout way of sticking it to the CCP.
“Syrian government not represent Syrian people,” he says. “They kill Syrian people. Like the Chinese government kill Chinese people.
“So we are struggle for freedom, also save the Syrian people for freedom. But mostly some Chinese people just talk, talking. But Syrian people not talking. They fighting. They use [unintelligible] to do it. So this we should learn from Syria.”
And in case the analogy wasn’t clear:
“The Chinese government standing with Syria government. Chinese people, freedom people, standing with Syria people. We are together. One side. The Chinese government and Assad government one side people. They not represent us. They are like enemy. They are terrorism. Not us terrorism. We are for whole people, you know? Human being, for human being, for peaceful.”
Two-plus decades may seem like a long time to hold a grudge, but few of us have experienced suppression by armed force, ordered by leaders who were — with one exception — too cowardly to face their eventual victims. Chen has probably earned the right to remain angry, and join a rebel army half a world away as an outlet for that anger.