March 8 International Women's Day fell on a Wednesday this year and was celebrated by many women and men around the world. Various activities such as rallies, forums, seminars, film screenings organised by groups actively involved in ensuring the rights of women to be constantly highlighted and for justice to be meted out for those who are oppressed and marginalised because of their gender. There were also several activities organised by the women's organisations in Hong Kong and particularly, one that caught much attention was the call for the freedom to commemorate those who were killed in the Tiananmen Incident. This activity was organised by the Tiananmen Mothers Campaign based in Hong Kong.
On 4 June 1989, an appeal was made to the Chinese government for openness and democracy in China by civil movements there, and a particularly vigourous call was made by university students. However, talks and negotiations between the students and the authorities broke down and military force was then deployed to disperse the protesting students and other civilians in Tiananmen (in English, it means the Square of Heavenly Peace) where they had gathered. Tanks and machine guns were used and as a result, hundreds were killed on that fateful night. The Chinese authorities had refused to acknowledge this incident and even imposed restrictions on any commemoration of those who were killed due to the sensitivity of the issue. Families, friends, relatives or those who wish to memorialise their loved ones, were not allowed to do so. There had been many appeals made by various groups and even from the families of the victims to the Chinese authorities but all were in vain.
The Tiananmen Mothers Campaign was thus set up by the families of the victims in the Tiananmen Incident to continuously campaign and appeal to the Chinese authorities on their right to commemorate their daugthers, sons and siblings who were killed on June 4, 1989. For this March 8 International Women's Day, the Tiananmen Mothers Campaign used 6 white roses and 4 red roses as a symbol of their children's innocence and sacrifice for their cause. The roses appeal to the general public and importantly, to the Chinese government to understand the families' sufferings for the prohibition to show love and remembrance to their children's death, in addition, to have the right and justice for any human being to be fully commemorated in dignity and openness. To the Tiananmen Mothers Campaign, being prohibited to remember their children openly with integrity and dignity gives the impression that their children had done things hugely hideous that should not be mentioned forever. Tiananmen Mothers Campaign strongly believes that their children were committed in an open and democratic Chinese society and their calls for it had become a sacrifice in exchange. The rose campaign is thus a campaign for justice, love, compassion, acknowledgement and dignity for those who were killed in the Tiananmen Incident.