As political repression in Hong Kong escalates and the genocide against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang continues, Beijing’s surveillance, control and censorship nationally and internationally is also escalating. Any criticism of the Chinese government triggers aggressive censorship. Included in that censorship is the attempt to erase any memory of the massacre of students and workers in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.

To support the relentless struggle against dictstorship and to give meaning to the sacrifice of thousands of students and workers, we must remember June 4.

Hong Kong June 4, 2014

For 32 years the world remembered June 4 through the labour movement in Hong Kong. From the first solidarity marches in Hong Kong in 1989, mass rallies and candelight vigils were attended by millions of people in Hong Kong each year. As recently as June 4, 2019, 180,000 people attended the mass rally and candlelight vigil in Hong Kong. Now with political suppression in Hong Kong, cracking down on freedom of assembly and freedom of speech with the use of the National Security Law, June 4 falls silent in Hong Kong. The Beijing regime hopes that with Hong Kong silent, the world will forget.

We should remember that students and workers converged on Tiananmen Square and rallied in other cities in a movement demanding greater democracy and freedom. This included an Autonomous Workers’ Movement that demanded the freedom to organize themselves to defend their rights and interests. This meant breaking free from the control of the official trade union structures under the state-controled ACFTU. It meant greater democracy in the workplace and in society. It was – and still is – a fight against dictatorship. On May 21, 1989, the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Federation proclaimed in the Workers’ Declaration:

“… Destroying autocracy and dictatorship, and the pursuit of democracy is the incumbent responsibility of workers… Our strength comes from solidarity, and our success comes from convictions.”

Despite the bloody crackdown on June 4, 1989 and the arrest and imprisonment of thousands of labour activists over the years, this struggle for independent and democratic trade unions – for the ability for workers to combine together to defend their rights and interests – continues today. That is why the Beijing regime wants us to forget, and why we must remember.

On June 4, 2021, join hundreds of thousands of trade union members across the world as we gather, protest, and remember in solidarity.

Please read the past IUF editorials Why Tiananmen Matters [2014] and Remembering Tiananmen [2019]