The criminals who run the totalitarian kleptocracy they call the “People’s” Republic of China are still so terrified of the spectre of their massacre of protesting students and workers on June 4, 1989, that even today, 23 years later, they shudder at the very words “Tiananmen Square”.
So it is vital that those of us who deplore governments that employ fear, secrecy and lies to perpetuate their power to plunder the people, be it in China, Malaysia or anywhere else, persist in keeping the spirit of the Tiananmen protesters alive.
If only to support and celebrate the courage of dissident Chinese citizens like the 150 “Tiananmen Mothers”, who according to aSydney Morning Herald report, last week issued a statement reminding the world that “the people’s awakening, enthusiasm and creative spirit were crushed to pieces by the tanks and machineguns of those with might.”
“We believe,” this damning document reportedly concluded, “that the only way forward for China’s rulers is to atone and make up for the sins of the past.”
And indeed, as John Garnaut of the Sydney Morning Herald reminds us, several senior Chinese officials back in June 1989, including then-mayor of Beijing Chen Xitong, party secretary Zhao Ziyang and then-premier Li Peng, have publicly condemned or decried their involvements in the massacre.
But as Garnaut further comments, “while individual leaders are disowning it, the party itself still insists on preventing all public discussion of the massacre except to blame the protesters”.
And such murderous hypocrisy is by no means confined to China. In fact, blaming the victims seems to be standard procedure by gangs of crooks posing as legitimate governments everywhere.
The most vivid, indeed vicious example of this ploy outside China is Bashar al-Assad’s (right) blaming of “terrorists” and “foreign extremists” for an estimated 13,000 deaths largely at the hands of al-Assad’s own Syrian armed forces.
As Zelda Karam of Associated Presswrote recently, the truth of the matter is that “the revolt began last March with mostly peaceful protests, but a ferocious government crackdown led many in the opposition to take up arms.”
‘Blame the victim’ strategy
But al-Assad, who throughout the months of increasingly bitter conflict has regularly promised and failed to deliver reforms, is still entirely blaming the victims for the situation.
“A battle was forced on us and the result was this bloodshed we are seeing,” he recently lied on state television, adding that “this freedom that they called for has turned into the remains of our sons and this democracy that they talked about is now drowning in our blood.”
Another crooked regime that is pursuing a “blame the victim” strategy, though admittedly so far only in its typically sneaky, small-time way, is Malaysia’s Umno/BN coalition.
Its first move was the call by self-styled “reformist” and “moderate” Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for his supporters to defend his government’s hold on power “even if our bodies are crushed and our lives lost.”
Since then he has regularly promised significant popular reforms, indeed “transformations”, but in true al-Assad style has utterly failed to enact any.
Then, when the populace ran out of patience with his failure to fix an electoral system corruptly skewed in his coalition’s favour and held a massive public rally to demonstrate their dissatisfaction, Najib and his accomplices first tried to demonise the rally as a “riot” and then an “attempted coup”.
And the government has since employed this blatant falsehood, plus false claims that attacks by thugs on opposition meetings were self-inflicted attempts to show the authorities in a poor light, to portray itself as the champion of public order and national stability.
So much so that Najib’s recent speech at the investiture of Malaysia’s new Agong or King was straight out of the Bashar al-Assad book, right down to the paranoid claims of the agency of “foreign” elements.
“The government will continue to act firmly without compromise, to quash any threat on disrupting public order,” he declared.
“Although this might be despised by certain groups, including foreign powers, we will never bow to any pressure. We will take appropriate measures to ensure the rights of the majority to live peacefully will continue to be preserved.”
Rights to keep slumbering
What he failed to mention, of course, was that by the “rights of the majority to live peacefully” he actually meant the rights of the populace to keep peacefully slumbering while he and his cronies go on with their customary plundering.
But undeterred by this self-evident truth and the fraudulence and illegitimacy of his government’s use of and hold on power, he went on to claim that “we cannot afford to let the most important foundations of democracy, that is, the superiority of the majority, be destroyed by those who want to uphold the misplaced law of the jungle by thinking that the loudest, most cunning and most violent, as the most capable and truthful.”
Then, having ludicrously vilified those calling for clean and fair elections as not only anti-democratic but also most cunning and violent, he laughably concluded that despite such obstacles, the government would “stay focused, determined and more courageous on the path of righteousness.”
As if this wasn’t a righteous enough load of rubbish to be going on with, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin simultaneously supported it in a speech falsely claiming that the electoral system had been reformed and thus the Bersih 3.0 rally was unnecessary.
“I believe this is psychological warfare,” he said. They spread the allegations that our electoral system is not clean…so that once we win they can declare the election as illegitimate… and (then) they will go into the street to topple the government like what happened in the Middle East.”
Which brings us back to the point that, just as the kleptocrats of China quail before the spirit of Tiananmen Square, corrupt and criminal governments everywhere are quaking with terror at the prospect of falling prey to the power of their people.
And that, like the dead-and-gone Gaddafi and Mubarak regimes and now the doomed al-Assad dynasty, they’ll commit whatever error or terror they imagine they can get away with in their last-ditch efforts to save their worthless skins.
DEAN JOHNS, after many years in Asia, currently lives with his Malaysian-born wife and daughter in Sydney, where he coaches and mentors writers and authors and practises as a writing therapist. Published books of his columns for Malaysiakini include ‘Mad about Malaysia’, ‘Even Madder about Malaysia’, ‘Missing Malaysia’ and ‘1Malaysia.con’.