Opinion: U of T Students' Peaceful Exit: Stark Contrast to Beijing’s June 4th Massacre
来源: 大中网/096.ca 王飞

On a quiet Wednesday afternoon, University of Toronto students silently packed their tents on the expansive patch of grass at King’s College Circle, marking the end of a two-month-long pro-palestinian demonstration. Through court orders and legal dialogue, violence was averted, and peace was maintained on the campuses of Toronto—without the need for police intervention. This tranquil scene starkly contrasted with my memories as a recent college graduate in Beijing during the spring of 1989. Back then, the cries for change were met with tanks, gunfire, and the tragic loss of thousands of lives, not peaceful resolutions. From the blood-stained streets of Beijing to the orderly campuses of Toronto, this contrast highlights the drastic differences in political systems, the respect for free speech and rule of law, and the high regard for human rights.


在一个宁静的周三下午,多伦多大学的学生们在King’s College Circle的广阔草地上默默地收拾帐篷,和平地结束了为期两个月的支持巴勒斯坦的示威活动。这场争端通过法庭命令和司法对话得以解决,无需警察介入,避免了暴力事件,同时保持了多伦多校园的安宁。这一和平场景与我1989年春,刚从大学毕业时在天安门广场目睹的惨烈事件形成了鲜明对比。当时,学生们的民主自由诉求未能得到非和平解决而是遭到坦克和枪炮的镇压,数千名学生丧生了生命。北京血腥的长安街与多伦多和平校园之间形成的这巨大反差,是民主社会中对言论自由的崇尚、法治法规的遵守以及对人权的高度尊重的生动写照。

The differing responses to student protests, separated by decades and continents, shed significant light on the societal values and legal structures within which they occur. Demonstrating a commitment to free speech, a Canadian court notably declined an injunction request to evict McGill University students from campus, affirming their right to protest. These actions, however, must be rigorously guided by the rule of law to ensure that voices of dissent are heard without compromising the broader community’s peace and safety. The peaceful and orderly conclusion of the conflicts exemplifies democratic principles at work, showing how all parties—student protesters, opponents, and university authorities—can navigate their differences peacefully without trampling on individual rights or creating social chaos.



Conversely, in Beijing in 1989, the demands for political reform and democracy voiced by thousands of students and citizens were met not with dialogue, but with brute force. Growing impatient with the students' peaceful occupation of Tiananmen Square, which had lasted less than two months, the authoritarian regime resorted to the most direct and brutal method to clear the crowd. Armed soldiers opened fire as tanks rolled through the square, resulting in a horrific massacre of hundreds, if not thousands, of students.



Fang Zheng, a student protester whose crushed legs serve as a grim reminder of Beijing's brutal crackdown, shared his harrowing story with me on a blossoming spring afternoon in 2014 at a restaurant in Markham, Toronto. "In the blink of an eye, the tank was approaching the sidewalk and closing in on me," Fang recounted. "My frantic attempt to throw myself to the ground and roll away saved my upper body, which fell between two treads of the tank, but both my legs were run over."

64屠杀中被坦克碾断了双腿的天安门广场抗议学生方政(Fang Zheng),是北当局残酷镇压学生抗议的最直接受害者之一。2014年一个春天的下午,方政在多伦多万锦的一家餐厅与我谈及这场恐怖经历。“转眼间,坦克就驶向人行道并向我逼近,”他回忆说: “我立即扑倒在地并滚动身体试图逃离坦克的碾压,但我的上身侥幸滚到坦克的两个履带之间,但双腿却被碾了过去。”


As Fang Zheng recounted the events of that fateful night, his voice was steady, yet his eyes betrayed a deep, unresolved pain. "The sound of the tank engines still haunts me," he confessed. "It was a moment that changed my life forever, not just physically, but in every conceivable way." His narrative transcended personal loss, standing as a poignant testament to a cruel regime’s blatant disregard for human rights and its abhorrent abuse of students' lives.


But the contrast in how demands for change are met is not merely historical; it remains vitally relevant today. Around the world, the right to protest is under threat in numerous places where governments view dissent through a lens of fear, rather than as a fundamental right to be protected. The significantly different outcomes of student protests not only highlight the power of voices raised in dissent but also reflect how these voices are acknowledged and handled by authorities. Societies that promote dialogue and adhere to legal processes for resolving conflicts help ensure that future generations are spared from the horrors that Fang Zheng and countless others faced on that fateful June night in Beijing.






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