Liu Shaoming: Courage from the Grassroots
After two years of his detention, Liu Shaoming, 59, a labour activist charged with “inciting subversion of state power” for publishing his memoir of June Fourth Massacre, was tried at the Guangzhou Intermediate Court on 7 July. A harsh sentence of 4.5 years imprisonment was then handed down, close to the highest possible sentence (5 years) for this “crime”.
Liu was a steel worker and a member of
In June 2014, Liu Shaoming escaped the authority’s surveillance and held a banner to publicly commemorate victims of June Fourth Massacre from 25 years ago. His action earned him 10 days of administrative detention. In May 2015, Liu released his “June Fourth Memoir”, with detailed documentation of his experience of the Tiananmen Square Protests in 1989. Shortly afterwards, he was detained by Guangzhou Police on 29 May and charged on
Coming from a grassroots background, Liu witnessed and encountered social injustice and political violence. He is neither a famous academic, nor a rights lawyer. He cannot either write academic papers with well-structured theories, or discuss legal interpretation with expertise. Yet, as a grassroots worker, he organized other workers to defend labour rights; as a witness of June Fourth Massacre, he published his memoir online to speak up. Paying the price of his freedom, Liu is fighting not only a class struggle with the regime, but a struggle to preserve memory. Last year, he defended himself in the courtroom, talking about his goal and motive in releasing his memoir, “for my fellow countrymen not to forget this history, to reflect on such a heartbreaking history.” The Chinese Government, in order to avoid responsibility for June Fourth Massacre and to cover up the deteriorating labour relations, handed him a harsh punishment, to eliminate the righteous voice.