Mourning under the same tyranny
Before the 1 million protest march on June 9, the ‘last battle’ sentiment was affecting everyone. The amendment of the extradition bill in Hong Kong seemed to be at the point of no return. The Chinese human rights groups who work in Hong Kong also believe that June would be the deadline for human rights work in China and Hong Kong.
In such an atmosphere, the poetry mourning vigil for the seventh anniversary of Li Wangyang’s death was once again held in Tsim Sha Tsui’s harbour. The theme of the vigil was, "He just stood asleep like this," was a quote from the poem of Xu Kangzhi, a Foxconn worker who committed suicide in 2014. "I just stood asleep like that." It was written on the event’s postcard:
A worker leader who “was” committed suicide, a Foxconn worker poet who committed suicide.
Under the same tyranny, they did the same, standing asleep.
The vigil opened with this poem, to resonate the tragic death of Li Wangyang with that of worker Xu Lizhi. The two losses were overlapped. The death of Li Wangyang reminds us of our present - Not only was Li’s body destroyed, but also his idea of workers’ autonomy, his dream of Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation in 1989, and the dream of Chinese democracy were destroyed. In exchange for these losses, we are facing a situation of Chinese workers as described in Xu’s poem: "workshop, assembly line, machine, employment certificate, overtime, salary / I was totally governed by these, I will not scream, will not resist".
King Pui-was was the first singer to adapt "Do you hear the people sing" of "Les Misérables” into the Cantonese version "Song of the People" for the social movement in Hong Kong. It was her first time to come to Li Wangyang's poetry meeting. The song of "Umbrella March" adapted from a Korean version of "임을 위한 행진곡" connected the Korean democracy movement in the 1980s and the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
It is a mystery to know for how many years this form of gatherings can still be held. Wong Hin-yan, who was recently banned by the Chinese mainland websites because of the upload of "It’s not your fault, mom", restated his intention to mourn Li Wangyang every year, and reinterpreted "Yan Gan Do" (Path of Man), the theme song of Hong Kong film "A Chinese Ghost Story", which was later included in the June 4th album "Field 田" (six strokes and four grids). Yan again Do was originally a pop song. Today, no pop singer would perform it.
The vigil focused on bringing attention to the current situation of Chinese labour. Students read out the "Me and Us" of Jasic’s construction worker Mi Jiuping: "I will have everything / have all, not today / in the near future / I am not me, I am us." It is the entire spirit of the workers who dared to form a trade union. "Workers along with students" is the purpose. It is also the vision of Jasic Workers Solidarity Group. Their fellows have been imprisoned in recent years and yet to be released.
In the context of the "anti-extradition bill" movement, the current situation of workers’ resistance in China is a prediction of the future of Hong Kong's protesters. When we remember this group of "workers in resistance", our relationship with "them" is no longer just support or sympathy. We realised we are facing the same tyranny.
Chan Kam-hong, of the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, passed away on May 5. At the party, his comrade-in-arms, Leung Po-lam, recalled Chan’s long-standing work in helping the injured workers, not only in Hong Kong but also related associations in mainland China and Asia, where he shared his rich experiences and training.
Lenny Kwok concluded the gathering with a "not one step back,'' which is a footnote for the struggle. Under the same tyranny, we should commemorate our freedom fighters, from past to present, from China to Hong Kong. The commemoration events on June 4th and 6th Party opened this June of social resistance, we could not imagine more lives would perish in this summer of resistance. The past was a preparation of the present. The violence is a reflection of Hong Kong under tyranny. The struggle in China and Hong Kong may also be "Brothers climbing the same mountain". Only time will tell whether we will share the same destiny.
Rundown and playlist:
King Pui-wai x The Witches
Unwilling to forget
March of the Umbrella
Remembering June Fourth
WONG Hin-Yan x Lau Ji-bun
It’s not your fault, mom
Path of man
Lenny Kwok x June x Chan Ching-wa
I swallowed a moon made of iron. (Xu Lizhi)