Dalù, persecuted for remembering Tiananmen massacre, welcome in Italy
by Luca Antonietti

Dalù is a radio journalist who in 1995 dared to remember the anniversary of the massacre of students and workers on Tiananmen Square. He has since been marginalized by society. In 2010 he converted to Catholicism. To escape social and religious persecution, he came to Italy, where he was granted political refugee status.

Ancona (AsiaNews) - He had spoken publicly about the Tiananmen massacre on radio in China; today he lives with refugee status in Italy. Recently, I have fought for the recognition of international protection for Dalù, a pseudonym to prevent the regime from taking revenge on family members who have remained in China.

Dalù graduated in Beijing in the 1980s, and he had a Sunday morning radio program in Shanghai. One Sunday in June 1995 he had the courage to speak about what had happened six years earlier in Tiananmen square.

On the night between 3 and 4 June 1989, the Chinese army ("for the liberation of the people") defeated and "cleared" Tiananmen square in Beijing, where several thousand students had been carrying out a sit-in for democracy and against corruption. The movement of students and workers originated in April 1989, with the funeral of the reformist Hu Yaobang, whom the Party had ousted, and had grown to gather at least one million people in Beijing alone. Similar gatherings had also taken place in other cities, such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu ...

According to estimates carried out by independent bodies, 300 to 2,000 people died on the night of the massacre, crushed by tanks or shot while fleeing. The Party has always branded the students and workers of the movement as "counter-revolutionaries" and for 30 years has forbidden any commemoration of the event.

Dalù's voice caused a sensation and crossed the Chinese border: the international press reported on the case and the radio program was immediately suspended and dropped from the weekly schedule. Dalù was fired after being forced to apologize. They told him that he should also thank the Party for saving his life. The reporter was sentenced to oblivion at home, with the report in his personal file making him a social outcaste. He had no prospects for gainful employment.

The situation worsened with his Catholic baptism in 2010. In Xi's China, constant control of religious activity was added to the intimidation Dalù was subjected to, which sometimes amounted to threats to his life.

Even now, on Chinese blogs - anonymous by necessity - remember his gesture as one of the most significant of the 20th century in China.

In September 2019, Dalù managed to escape and arrive in the homeland of the Jesuit Matteo Ricci. After a few days of prayer spent in the Vatican, he was noticed in the church, in the hamlet of a mountain village in the Marche region, where he camouflaged himself among the few old women present at the service. His real desire was to seek international protection and reside in one place to recover strength and find the necessary concentration to finish writing his book because - as he always remembers - "you should never be ashamed to tell the truth". The case was immediately reported to me by a local friend, intrigued by the presence of a Chinese man in the village.

I decided not only to provide legal assistance, but also to offer him hospitality. He has become one of the family. Dalù has regained lost dignity and the memory of his father - a man beaten before his children during the Cultural Revolution - has revived in friendship with my father.

The application of the Geneva Convention has never been in question for Dalù. Thanks to the professional experience gained in Shanghai, I was able to gather impressive documentary evidence and reconstruct the persecutions suffered which allowed him to obtain refugee status in Italy without any recourse to the judicial authority.

In the collective imagination, the Tiananmen protagonist is the lone man who stops the advance of the tank. The unknown rebel has been included by Time among "the most influential figures of the twentieth century " but also Dalù and his "social death" represent an example to hold up to the Chinese press as June 4th approached.

After five years of residence Dalù will become Italian. He will soon finish his book on irreversible environmental consequences, devastating working conditions and growing inequalities caused by the rapid Chinese economic growth of the recent past, in which rights, democracy and freedom have been forgotten.

The day he was notified of the recognition of refugee status, as a sign of gratitude for Italy and its people, he hung the tricolor that my mother had sewed many years ago from his balcony. His is a miracle of freedom, hope and truth and I am honored to have defended him and brought story to the attention of a world that is in great need of such witness.