Wearing black armbands and holding candles, about 300 people gathered outside of MIT's student center last night at a memorial ceremony for the Chinese killed in the Tiananmen Square massacre one year ago today.
"This [candlelight vigil] is mostly for sentimental reasons," said Bing H. Ko, who organized the ceremony. "We're all Chinese, we've all gone through hopes which have been shattered in the last year."
Surrounding the stage were signs with names and faces of Chinese intellectuals arrested in the Tiananmen protest and held by the Chinese government. Above the speakers hung a large black banner reading "Mourning June 4 Beijing Massacre."
Speakers at the ceremony included Cambridge Mayor Alice K. Wolf and representatives of Government. Michael S. Dukakis, Senator Edward M. Kennedy '54-'56 (D-Mass.) and Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).
Two speakers read a statement in both Chinese and English, discussing the events that led up to the massacre and suggesting what could be done now to keep the democracy movement alive.
"The massacre has started on June 3, but it has not ended. It was just camouflaged into a more subtle form. the tanks and machine guns may be gone from sight, but an elaborate Orwellian thought control apparatus is now in their place," the speakers said.
"We are all here to pay our respect to the innocent students and citizens who sacrificed their lives last year," they said. "Not only must we not forget ourselves, we must remind the whole world of what happened in Beijing on this same day last year. We have to let the Chinese leaders understand that they will pay a dear price for the blood shed."
Representatives of both Massachusetts senators read statements from the politicians expressing their support for the leaders of the prodemocracy movement in China and condemning President Bush's recent decision to extend China's most-favored-nation trading status.
Another supporter of the prodemocracy movement spoke out against Bush's decision, saying that China's receiving most-favored-nation status should be contingent on its human rights record.
"I think the most-favored-nation status of China ought to be stopped. We ought to put human rights above business," said Luo Zhexi of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars.
An elegy written by two survivors of the Beijing massacre was read, accompanied by a song that was sung by a student in Tiananmen Square shortly before the massacre.
The ceremony also included a slide presentation of protests in Beijing, a minute of silence and a recorded message by Wang Chaohua, a student who was arrested in the Tienanmen protest and escaped.
The vigil ended with the audience singing three Chinese songs, followed by "We Shall Overcome."