In these bright and beautiful days of May, we are beginning a hunger strike. In this moment of most beautiful and happy youth, we must firmly leave all of life's happiness behind us. We do this ever so unwillingly, ever so unhappily!
Yet [we must do so], for our country is in a most critical state. Prices are soaring, profiteering by officials run rampant, power politics hangs high, and the bureaucracy is corrupt. It is a time when large numbers of patriotic, upstanding Chinese willing to devote themselves to the betterment of their motherland [instead] live in exile overseas, and when social order and public security deteriorate day by day. At this life-death-moment of the nation's fate, all countrymen of conscience, please listen to us!
This country is our country,
These people are our people,
This government is our government,
If we do not cry out, who will?
If we do not act, who will?
Even though our shoulders are still tender, even though death still seems too weighty for us , we have gone – we could not but go. History asks this of us.
Our purest feelings of patriotism, our simple and complete innocence, have been called “turmoil”, have been described as “ulterior motives”, and have been alleged to have been “exploited by a small handful of people”.
We wish to ask every upright Chinese citizens -- every worker, peasant, soldier, city resident, intellectual, noted figure, government official, policeman, and those people who have concocted these accusations against us – to place your hands on your hearts, and ask your consciences: what crimes have we committed? Are we creating turmoil? Why, after all, are we boycotting classes, are we demonstrating, are we fasting, are we hiding? Time and time again our feelings have been manipulated; we endure hunger, we pursue truth, yet we have met with malicious beatings at the hands of the army and the police... Students representatives have fallen on their knees pleading for democracy, only to be ignored by the government. Our demands for a dialogue of equals have been out off repeatedly. Students leaders face danger.
What are we to do?
Democracy is the highest aspiration of human existence, freedom the innate birthright of all human beings. But they require that we exchange our young lives for them. How can Chinese people be proud of this?
We have gone on a hunger strike because there's no other alternative, and because that is what we should do.
With the spirit of facing death, we fight for life.
But we are children, we are children still! Mother China, look carefully at your sons and daughters; as hunger mercilessly destroys their youth, as death closes in on them, can you remain indifferent?
We do not want to die; we want to live, to live fully, for we are at life's most promising age. We do not want to die; we want to study. Our motherland is so impoverished; it feels as if we are abandoning her to go to die. Yet death is not what we seek. But if the death of one or a few people can enable more to live better, and can make our motherland prosperous, then we have no right to cling to life.
As we suffer from hunger, Papa and Mama, do not grieve; when we part from life, Aunts and Uncles, please do not be sad. We have only one hope, that we may all live better lives; we have only one request, that you would not forget: our pursuit is life, not death. Since democracy is not a task for a few, it takes generations.
To die, hoping for the widest and eternal echo.
The words of a dying man are good and wise; the neighs of a dying horse, sorrowful.
Farewell, friends, take care! The living and the death are equally faithful.
Farewell, my love, take care, I cannot bear to leave you, yet it must come to an end.
Far well, mother and father! Please forgive me, your child who cannot be loyal to both the country and to you.
Farewell, countrymen! Please allow us to use this means, however reluctantly, to demonstrate our loyalty and love.
The vows written with our lives will brighten the skies of the Republic!
-- Entire Body of the Beijing University
Hunger Strikers Group, May 13, 1989