We Must Break the Cycle of Violence – Opening Remark at the Second Interethnic Leadership Conference, Sept. 25, 2001

Posted on Sep 25, 2001

We Must Break the Cycle of Violence

Yang Jianli

Opening Remark at the Second Interethnic Leadership Conference, Sept. 25, 2001

Ladies and gentlemen, my dear friends:

Last October, our Foundation successfully organized the first Interethnic Leadership Conference. That assembly was unprecedented; it was the first time in history that leaders from the mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and ethnic Mongolians, Muslims, Tibetans and Uyghurs, came together without coercion, to stand up together for justice and love without fear and hesitation. Just by gathering together, we had accomplished a significant first step toward the goal of eternal peace and harmony.

At that conference, we all admitted that dominance of one by another, ethnic divisions, killings, atrocities, wars, the threat of force, ethnic culture destruction �have prevailed in the history of our relations, especially in the past half a century of the communist rule in China. We all realized that it is time for all of us to reprogram our thoughts, words, and deeds from dominance to partnership, and to tear down the mountain of lies that stands between us. More importantly, we all agreed that there must be a better way for us to live together.

At the same time, no one can ignore the fact that nothing is more difficult and formidable than the resolution of ethnic and regional conflicts. The history of humankind has repeatedly showed us that a civilization built for many years can be destroyed over night by barbarian forces. The terrorist attacks that took place exactly two weeks ago, once again, heavily punctured our confidence in our lives and in the coexistence of human beings. As we sorrowfully prayed for those lives buried in the rubble, we could not help but cry out: Do human beings still have hope? President Bush declared: �We will direct every resource at our command-every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence and every necessary weapon of war — to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network.� I believe, as the majority of the world people do, that this is the right thing to do. Nevertheless, if we search in the deepest recesses of our hearts where we cannot reach in ordinary times, we cannot refrain from asking ourselves: Is this really what we want? If we say yes, the violence goes on and on; if we say no, the terror spreads. This is the dilemma we must wrestle today.

We who dream for a just and peaceful China face the same dilemma. We deeply understand that the process of democratization in China is fraught with dangers of violence and terror. It is so, simply because the communist tyranny has planted too many seeds of cruelty and hatred. From Beijing to Tibet, from Shanghai to Xinjiang, from Inner Mongolia to the Taiwan Strait, in prisons and schools, in plants and markets, in churches and temples, everywhere we can see an evil process at work. Tyranny is violence of violence, is the hotbed of barbarian thoughts and acts. Democracy is necessary for peace, therefore, bringing the communist tyranny to an end and erecting democracy in China is our shared cause.

The first thing we must do to that end is to entirely abandon the logic of power and violence harbored by world dictators and terrorists. We must resolve our differences by non-violence means, we must take a civilized road to look for freedom, and we must build our future through democratic ways, so that all peoples and individuals are free, not exploited, living so they can grow to their full potential.

Some people may wonder why we have not dropped all these ideals because they seem so absurd after so many evil things have happened. We keep them because, in spite of everything, we still believe that people are really good at heart, and thus the power of love will eventually prevail over the love of power.

My dear friends, you are leaders from different ethnic and regional group that are in age-old conflicts and can so easily be pulled into bloody war. Always bear on mind: it is easier to lead your men to combat, stirring up their passions, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace. What our future calls for is not the coward leadership that makes war but the brave leadership that makes peace.

To conclude, let me quote Eleanor Roosevelt, �If we want a free and peaceful world, if we want to make the deserts bloom and man grow to greater dignity as a human being, we can do it.

Thanks to you all.