Tiananmen Square Massacre 2016

The Tiananmen Square Massacre was on June 4, 1989.  Protesters were Chinese college students returning from studying abroad, who were introduced to democratic ideas, and wanted democracy in their own country.  However, the Chinese leader at the time, Li Peng, chose not to go with these demands or make any compromises.  Instead, he declared martial law and sent troops to the Square and many protesters were killed.  According to one primary source, soldiers who were sent to suppress the protest didn’t want to do it, but they had to follow orders or face punishment.

From CNN.  They have a fantastic image gallery on the protest prior to the massacre up till the event.  I copied and pasted a few from CNN.  I’ve also included an article from TIME on 6 Things You Should Know About the Tiananmen Square Massacre after the CNN article.  Visit TIME for two videos on the massacre, one of which is the iconic tank driving toward a man.

Tens of thousands in Hong Kong commemorate Tiananmen Square massacre

Hong Kongers commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989.
Hong Kongers commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 4, 1989.

Hong Kong (CNN)Tens of thousands of people in Hong Kong attended events across the city Saturday to mark the 27th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, amid a split in the pro-democracy movement that could radically transform the city’s politics.

Leading student groups boycotted the decades-old candlelit vigil held in Victoria Park, over complaints the event has become “rigid” and too focused on Chinese issues, rather than advancing democracy in Hong Kong. One group even denounced the vigil organizers — members of the Hong Kong Alliance — as “pimps in a brothel.”

Hong Kong youth boycott Tiananmen rally

6 Things You Should Know About the Tiananmen Square Massacre

TIME looks back in history

Twenty-five years ago Wednesday, Chinese troops violently retook the square in Beijing where pro-democracy protesters had set up camp for weeks. The Tiananmen Square massacre left an unknown number dead, with some estimates in the thousands, and smothered a democratic movement. But after a quarter-century—and a thorough attempt by the Chinese government to conceal the events that unfolded that June—our collective memory is sometimes limited to not much more than an image of a man defiantly standing in front of a tank.

So TIME went back in history to pull out the details, context and feelings of those grim days from our own unfolding coverage at the time, including a cover story from the June 12, 1989 issue. The articles give color, detail and context that are sometimes lost 25 years later. Here are five key facts that may have been buried in time:

It wasn’t the only protest

The demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, which at one point had reportedly ballooned to a million people, were not the only pro-democracy protests in the country at the time. Demonstrations had spread to hundreds of cities, including Shanghai, China’s largest, and in the days after the military mobilized in Beijing, protesters were putting up blockades in Shanghai.

And to be sure, it wasn’t the first time protesters had filled the Square in Beijing, a space for public protest. More than a decade earlier, in what became known as the Tiananmen Incident, a similar if smaller-scale crackdown on protesters spawned outrage and led to a reshuffling of the nation’s top leadership.

In a report on the “Tank Man” several years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, TIME described the Square as:

Tiananmen Square–the very heart of the Middle Kingdom, where students had demonstrated in 1919 [as part of the “May Fourth Movement”]; where Mao had proclaimed a “People’s Republic” in 1949 on behalf of the Chinese people who had “stood up”; and where leaders customarily inspect their People’s Liberation Army troops—is a virtual monument to People Power in the abstract.

Chinese authorities still censor information about the massacre

More than a quarter century after the massacre, the Chinese government’s extensive censorship apparatus—which employs two million online censors — still rigorously blocks information about the protest. The ban is so total that not only is the search term “Tiananmen Square” censored, but so too are related words and phrases. Authorities have even gone as far as blocking combinations of the numbers 6, 4, 1989 that might obliquely reference the date of the protest, June 4, 1989. So for many members of the world’s largest online population, the facts about the bloody crackdown have been erased.

Gorbachev entered through the back door

The protests presented an embarrassing pickle for the Chinese government during a visit from the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev, the first visit from a leader of China’s communist peer in 30 years. The Chinese had scheduled a state banquet in the Great Hall of the People at the edge of the Square in May, as the protests raged. Gorbachev ended up having to go through the back door.

When the military opened fire, a lopsided battle ensued

In the early hours of June 4, 50 trucks and as many as 10,000 troops rumbled into the streets, TIME reported just days later. The military overwhelmed the civilians and began firing into crowds, but some protesters held fast, throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. In some cases, they responded with deadly violence: Demonstrators reportedly beat two soldiers to death who had been seen killing a civilian. In another instance, protesters covered an armored personnel carrier in banners and then set the vehicle ablaze, trapping the crew of eight or nine soldiers. The military continued its onslaught and skirmishes lasted throughout the morning, “but by then the great, peaceful dream for democracy had become a horrible nightmare.” A doctor at the time said at least 500 were dead; a radio announcer said 1,000.

A goddess lived and died

A few days before the raid on the square, “in a flash of exuberance” as TIME wrote at the time, the protesters erected a “Goddess of Democracy” that partially resembled the Statue of Liberty. The 30-foot statue swiftly made from Styrofoam and plaster became a symbolic monument to the pro-democracy movement, and was intended to be large enough to be difficult or at least embarrassing for authorities to take down. Tanks crushed her when troops took the square, TIME reported.

The Tank Man was and still is anonymous

“Almost certainly he was seen in his moment of self-transcendence by more people than ever laid eyes on Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and James Joyce combined,” essayist Pico Iyer wrote in TIME about Tank Man, the nameless individual who was pictured stopping a column of tanks on June 5, a day after the massacre. The man was ultimately hustled to safety by fellow protesters and quite lost to the crowd. Only rumors of his identity persist, and when Chinese leader Jiang Zermin was asked a year later if he know what had happened to the young man, he responded: “I think never killed.”

 

 

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Leanne

I began writing Elle's Adventure in China (EACh) in June 2014 as a fun summer project, but as obstacles kept interfering with my plans, I forked and forked more options. I took writing this novel much more seriously in mid-July, and want to have it officially published someday in my lifetime. As many artists put their hearts into their projects, so do I. I did not start out liking to read, but a professor suggested a book for me for homework a few years ago, and it was an amazing book. Since then, I read for pleasure, and I hope my novel, Elle's Adventure in China, does the same for as many of you as possible. The same thing goes to writing. I did not like to write until I took a course where the professor and papers made me love to write. I hope every one of you find what makes you happy and dedicated to work. In May 2015, I started my other blog, Read and Write Here (R&WH), as a place to post other things that aren't China- and Chinese culture-related and not EACh. I share some of my memories and experiences from student teaching, irregular participation in Daily Prompts, etc. I'd like to have regular people and bloggers to write book reviews and post it on R&WH someday. Keep reading and writing!

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