You all know there are two things I value highly. One is the democratic society we live in and the other is freedom of the individual. Because I believe passionately in these, I feel I have to stand up and speak out for those for whom these freedoms are denied.
This year June 4thmarks the 25th anniversary of those terrible events in Tiananmen Square.
Like many of you at that time I was appalled at what I witnessed. Upon then Prime Minister Bob Hawke’s granting those many Chinese students and others in Australia the right to stay here, I immediately opened my church as a centre where they could register.
This means that in all conscience I cannot ignore June 4th. Too many people died for freedom, something that we take for granted. I am really proud to say that on Sunday, June 1 I will be remembering this event with members of the Chinese community. I know there is a common political feeling espoused today that if we relate softly, softly with the Chinese government and try to influence them, eventually things will change for the better.
I agree with that philosophy. There is a large Chinese community in Ashfield and I am proud, through my Loaves and Fishes Free Restaurant and other services, to try and provide assistance for and work with them.
However, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t speak out whenever great wrongs are committed. We will never forget the image of that lone brave Chinese citizen standing in front of a tank. In the face of all that armour and military might, he stood figuratively naked and unafraid. Many others stood up too, many losing their lives and many suffering to this very day. Their very bravery demands to be honoured and nothing less.