While more than 180,000 people attended the annual candlelight vigil on June 4, 2012, in Hong Kong demanding the vindication of China's June 4th incident (Tiananmen Square protests), exiled former student leader Chai Ling wrote in the Huffington Post that she has forgiven the murderers of the massacre. Disagreeing with Chai Ling's stand, another former student leader Wang Dan issued a public statement via Facebook and stirred up a lot of debate.
Below is a video showing the scene of the candlelight vigil for the 23rd anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre in Victoria Park, Hong Kong (uploaded to YouTube by MrZuluLo):
Chai Ling said she had forgiven Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng who had ordered the people's army to wipe out the students and Beijing residents at Tiananmen Square in 1989, as well as the current leadership of China who continue to suppress people. Upon reading her article, Wang Dan wrote [zh] on his Facebook page:
I respect Chai Ling's opinion which is based upon her religious beliefs. However, I could not agree with that. Before the murderers express their remorse and apology and when the murderers continue to kill others, there is no base for forgiveness. Such forgiveness is unfair to the victims of June 4 Incident.
I hope the world should know that Chai Ling's view can only stand for herself and her beliefs. It cannot represent the students of the 1989 incident.
I also urge Chai Ling to distinguish the difference between religious beliefs and value judgements.
There are more than 200 comments under the statement, the majority supporting Wang Dan and questioning Chai Ling's stand. Below is a selection of some typical ones [zh]:
Marianne Wong: 是殺人！一定要先認錯／認罪，然後才能再講原諒／寬恕!!
Alexander Shen: 我一直就觉得那个人不是个好人 让别人流血唤醒国人 自己却跑了；23年前和现在根本判若两人 根本就是个小人嘛
Wen-shin Lee: 柴玲個人當場可以選擇原諒，但這不代表公義不該被申張。這跟受害人可以選擇原諒，但加害人仍然應付法律責任一樣。
Autumn Moon: ”I am not anti anything, including China. But I will advocate for the truth and I want the truth to be known.” – HH Karmapa
Ming Zou: 柴玲在23年前就做了选择，成为了公众人物。既然是公众人物，她只好让公众评论。在我看来，她太另我失望！！她经历了苦难，她在25岁失去母亲，但她的母亲没有失去她，因为她今天还活着，活在一个民主国家，呼吸着民主的空气，享受着言论自由……,不知道柴玲是否想过她这么做是否对的起天安门家长们。他们的孩子们那时就是和柴玲在一起为中华民族的民主奋斗，她是那些孩子们的学运领袖之一，天安门家长23年来受的煎熬难道柴玲的那些经历能比吗？柴玲的作为不正是让那些讲风凉话的人们名正言顺地加一句：“就这水平，还领导学运？幸亏没成功，不然中国落到这种人手里，还了得？” 希望王丹做为柴玲89的‘战友“，能有机会和她私下谈谈，虽然人各有志，但请柴玲别丢六四的脸，别伤天安门家长的心，别做对在中国实现民主不利的是。她可以从此销声匿迹，闭门祷告，但别在人前做出这么没水平的’宣言”。我敢肯定她的上帝也不会赞同她的做法的。
A few comments defended Chai on religious grounds:
Edward Lim: Chai is not wrong. To forgive is to release oneself from hatred that continues to harm no one but oneself. Without peace in heart, one's life cannot be restored from pain and cannot move on healthily. Praying for the opponents is to give oneself strength to journey on. Justice still needs to be asked on behalf of the victims. Jesus set the example to forgive before people repented so for all who repent before His second coming, they are totally forgiven. For those who insist on doing bad and refuse His forgiveness, they would pay for justice at final judgement. Do not get it mixed up.
Clyde Xi: In Bible teachings, forgiveness is a personal decision that is made with no conditions attached. It primarily impacts the person who forgives…
Here are some fascinating articles from the archives explaining why the CCP refuses to recognize the Tiananmen massacre. The Columbia Journalism Review looks back; Britain’s Daily Telegraph, too, and even gleanings from the US State Department’s cables at the time: