Continuation of rallying cry through poems and songs. Record of Li Wangyang’s Memorial Ceremony 2018

In Hong Kong, the spirit of Li Wangyang is closely related to poems and songs. In 2012, the news of his “suicide” broke out shortly after his interview on Cable TV Hong Kong interview had broadcasted. At that time, people in Hong Kong did not have the time to pay respect to this honourable man, but their anger made Hong Kong became the only place to demand justice for him. On the internet, loads of poems and art works were circulating to grieve Li Wangyang, the art work that had been circulated the most was a picture with the inscription: “I hope you are just standing by the window, watching the scenery of freedom.”

These poetries were written on a white banner and displayed in the march on 10th June 2012 that condemned the Chinese Government of Li Wangyang’s unnatural death. Li’s last word: “I will not give in even if beheaded” motivated thousands of Hong Kong people to take to the street and chanted “We are all Li Wangyang”. In the pop music industry, some lyricists embedded the rebellious spirit in their creation in 2012, such as KOLOR’s “Deer Hunter” and RubberBand’s “Open Eyes”.

6 Years has pasted, a memorial ceremony was held at the Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade, more than 200 people were gather under the banner “I will not give in even if beheaded”. All these words and poems became the nourishments of the ceremony, reminding us of the anger and struggle in 2012, just like what were written in the derogatory: “the suppression never goes, but so do you”. We will “let all these struggles became the wine to share with you in heaven”.

The 3 different music performances in the ceremony represent the voices of resistance from different generations. Lenny Kwok, the founder of band “Blackbird”, was touring in Hong Kong and the memorial ceremony became one of his tour gigs. In his song “I know”, the lyrics goes “Children, do you know why the school collapses? I know, I know. It’s because it was built by greed”. In 2016, Lenny Kwok and some other musicians produced an album related to the June Fourth Incident called “The Nine Songs”.

The moths “ignite the torches of madness”, is from Wong Hin-yan’s “Moth Patrons”. “It seems that there is a moment to remember in each oath.” Is it referring to June in Hong Kong? Then Billy and Yank Wong Yan-kwai performed “Journey” to remind us the dream or vision we hold in social movement. After “The Journey”, Billy, Yank Wong, Wong Hin-yan and Ben performed “Battle of Love”, a song that was originally a labour movement song from South Korea. Translated into various Asian languages, is a common hymn in Asian labour movement. In Hong Kong, “Battle of Love” is a song that runs through different struggles over the years, from the “Anti-WTO” movement in 2005 until today.

Poets, activists, youngsters and workers read poetries

Lau Tsz-wan and Yip Po-lam, poets from the poetry anthology “We Are All Li Wangyan”, was invited to the ceremony to read some of their poems from the poetry anthology. Lau said “some of my friends usually don’t write poems but they compose some poems in 2012. This is the only way for the poets to deal with the sadness this incident brings to us.”

Dock worker Chan chose some of the more straightforward poems from the anthology. We can listen to the cry of the workers through his voice. Poet Lee Mei-ting said “May be we need to walk through the square to find our way home”. Then she read out the poem “In the Great Square” by Yesi, which was written for the democratic movement in 1989.

There are many ways to shout, but on that special night, we shout in poems and songs. The rain stopped when the memorial started.  At the harbour front, people persisted silently.  Remembrance, struggle, freedom.  In poems and songs, we are united with the spirit of Li Wangyang, ever so close.