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Pro-Democracy Rallies in Tiananmen Square - History

Pro-Democracy Rallies in Tiananmen Square - History


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Pro-Democracy Rallies in

Tiananmen Square

Protesters Try to Stop the Tanks

In April, students in Peking began a series of demonstrations demanding democratization of China. These demonstrations culminated in the occupation of Tiananmen Square, the central square in Peking. As the student rally continued, a power struggle ensued inside the Chinese government. The hard-liners won and the order went out the clear the square. This was done with considerable loss of life. Mass arrest of the protesters followed. These events were broadcast live on television throughout the world. China took a turn away from democracy on that day June 3, 1989 a direction China has followed to this day.


China’s Tiananmen anniversary crackdowns reach far beyond the firewall

Tactics used by Beijing to suppress mentions of pro-democracy protests are increasingly spilling over and affecting users around the world.

Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

The 24-hour vigil started just after 8 a.m. US Eastern Time on June 3—more or less on schedule, and without any major disruptions.

The event, hosted on Zoom and broadcast live on other platforms such as YouTube, was put together by Chinese activists to commemorate the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Beijing’s bloody clampdown on a student-led pro-democracy movement that took place on June 4, 1989.

The fact that it could take place wasn’t certain: organizers were worried that they’d see a repeat of last year, when Zoom, the Californian videoconferencing company, shut down three Tiananmen-related events including theirs after a request from the Chinese government. The company even temporarily suspended the accounts of the coordinators, despite the fact that all of them were located outside of mainland China and four of them were in the US.

Zoom’s actions led to an investigation and lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice in December. “We strive to limit actions taken to only those necessary to comply with local laws. Our response should not have impacted users outside of mainland China,” Zoom wrote in a statement posted to its website, in which it admitted that it “fell short.”

It was one of the most extreme examples of how far western technology companies will go to comply with China’s strict controls on online content.

A suite of suppression

This kind of self-censorship is standard for Chinese technology companies, who—unlike American businesses shielded by rules such as Section 230—are held responsible for user content by Chinese law.

Every year, a few days ahead of sensitive dates like the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown, the Chinese internet—which is already strictly surveilled—becomes even more closed than normal. Certain words are censored on various platforms. Commonly used emojis, like the candle, start disappearing from emoji keyboards. Usernames on different platforms can’t be changed. And speech that may have been borderline acceptable during other times of the year may result in a visit from state security.

In 2020, Zoom shut down three Tiananmen-related events after a request from the Chinese government—despite the fact that all of them were located outside of mainland China. In December the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the company.

This is accompanied by crackdowns in the real world, with increased security at Tiananmen Square in Beijing and other locations the government deems sensitive, while vocal critics of the regime are sent on forced vacations, detained, or jailed outright.

This year, such suppression is stretching even further. Following the passage of a new national security law in Hong Kong that severely curtails speech—despite months of protests—commemoration events there and in neighboring Macau have been officially banned. (Last year 24 people were charged for ignoring a similar ban, including one of the movement’s most prominent leaders, democracy activist Joshua Wong, who is still in jail and was recently sentenced to a further 10 months.

Covid is playing its part too: a large public event planned in Taiwan has also been canceled, for example, due to a strict lockdown after a new wave of covid-19 infections.


Beijing 1989

Thirty years ago in Beijing, idealistic students risked everything, including their lives, to make a passionate stand for human freedom in the face of an overbearing state. As they cried out &ldquoLong Live the People,&rdquo waves of them outstretched their arms and thrust out two fingers to signal &ldquovictory.&rdquo They were fearless.

I was the Chief Photographer for Reuters News Pictures in China at the time and lived in Beijing. My favorite images of the 1989 protests reflect the participants&rsquo idealism in the face of overwhelming odds and are now elements in these works by Shepard Fairey.

Singing patriotic songs, students locked arms and charged into a series of police phalanxes blocking their entrance to Tiananmen Square (image at the bottom, middle). Once they occupied the square, parades of ordinary citizens took to the streets to wave victory signs (top image) while Communist Party bosses met behind the walled gates of their Zhongnanhai headquarters to plot a response (bottom right).

After the People&rsquos Liberation Army was sent in to suppress what is now called the &ldquopro-democracy movement&rdquo on June 4, 1989, there was a liberalization of economic rules and policies. China then experienced a remarkable economic transformation. The idea: if people could get rich, they wouldn&rsquot care so much about their freedoms. I think that&rsquos a miscalculation. In Hong Kong today, ideas championed in 1989 have reappeared in a &ldquoRevolution of Our Time&rdquo in spite of the campaign to erase such &ldquocounter-revolutionary&rdquo thoughts from history.

My images used in these prints are from energetic and optimistic moments of the pro-democracy movement. Victory was in the air. Progress seemed inevitable to those with arms outstretched and smiles beaming from their faces. Shepard&rsquos work reflects their hopes and aspirations. The same ones that fortified those protesters in 1989 are now fuel for the passionate idealists on the streets today.


Contents

Initial call Edit

The anonymous call for a 'Jasmine revolution' in China's major cities was made online, first on the Boxun.com website, run by overseas dissidents, and then on Twitter. [7] [8] The initial call for protest began on 19 February 2011 when 12 to 13 cities were suggested. [9] The Boxun.com appeal called for protests to take place each weekend, [1] arguing that "sustained action will show the Chinese government that its people expect accountability and transparency that doesn't exist under the current one-party system." [2]

City Province Location [10]
Beijing McDonald's at Wangfujing
Changchun Jilin Culture Square, West Minzhu Street, front door of Corogo supermarket
Changsha Hunan Wuyi square, Xinda building front door
Chengdu Sichuan Tianfu square, beneath chairman Mao statue
Guangzhou Guangdong People's Park Starbucks
Hangzhou Zhejiang Wulin square, front door of Hangzhou department store
Harbin Heilongjiang Front door of Harbin cinema
Nanjing Jiangsu Drum tower square, Xiushui Street, department store front door
Shanghai People's square, front door of Peace Cinema
Shenyang Liaoning Nanjing-Bei (North Nanjing) Street, front door of KFC
Tianjin Beneath the Tianjin Drum Tower
Wuhan Hubei Liberation road, World trade Square, McDonald's front door
Xi'an Shaanxi Beida Street (北大街), front door of Carrefour

Protest strategy and tactics Edit

A number of slogans were suggested to the protests: [10]

Translation in English Chinese
We want food, we want work, we want housing! 我们要食物、我们要工作、我们要住房!
We want fairness, we want justice! 我们要公平、我们要正义!
Initiate change in political reform, end one party dictatorship! (or "Terminate one-party rule" [11] ) 启动政治改革、结束一党專政! [10] (or 停止一党專政)
Lift restrictions, free the press! 开放报禁、新闻自由!
Long live freedom, long live democracy! 自由万岁、民主万岁!

On 2 March, organisers declared a three-stage strategy. The first stage would take "a few weeks, a couple of months, a year or even longer" the second stage would include "holding a jasmine flower and [using] mobile phones or music players to play [the folk song] Such a Beautiful Jasmine". Organisers declared the third stage as "when the street-walking revolution is irreversible" it would involve people criticising the government openly and without fear. [6]

The media reported a vindication by protest organisers on 2 March saying, "Now China's government clearly shows its horror and fear of the people, as if facing a deadly enemy. A modest amount of people, just by walking, have demonstrated the people's power, and the government's response has revealed its weaknesses to the world." [6] [12] For 6 March, protesters were urged to "either gather near fast-food restaurants, take a stroll, or eat at the restaurants, . [and order] set meal No3 at the McDonald's and the KFC". [11]

20 February Edit

The Associated Press reported that only "a handful of people" were known to have actively involved in organizing the staging rallies in 13 cities. [2] The Globe and Mail reported that the 20 February appeal was answered by 200 people at the Beijing rendezvous. There was a similar protest in Shanghai with about 100 participants. [13]

An elderly female demonstrator in Shanghai stated: "Our country has no proper legal system, it's a one-party dictatorship, a tyranny, that suppresses the citizens. There is also land eviction. Many people are beaten to death in many land eviction cases." [14]

The United States Ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Jr., was seen at the protest rendezvous point. Huntsman exchanged a few words with people in Chinese and then his entourage departed the site immediately. US Embassy spokesman Richard Buangan said that Huntsman and family were on their way to a museum and "they immediately left" once they realized what was going on. The Atlantic Wire reports: "that hasn't stopped nationalist Chinese bloggers from using Huntsman's appearance to drum-up conspiracies of a U.S. plot to destabilize China". [15] [16] [17] [18]

27 February Edit

After the police response to the protests on 20 February, the organizers urged the participants not to shout slogans any more, but simply to stroll silently at the respective protest sites. The call to use "strolling" tactics for the 27 February gatherings was made on the Boxun.com website on 22 February. [2] Prior to the planned 27 February gathering in front of a McDonald's restaurant in Beijing, authorities installed metal corrugated fencing outside the restaurant and outside the home of Nobel laureate and dissident Liu Xiaobo. [3] Hundreds of uniformed and plainclothed security staff and volunteers wearing red armbands were pre-emptively stationed at Wangfujing. Their presence disrupted normal shopping and attracted onlookers. [4] Police began to clear the rendezvous area half an hour after the designated assembly time. [19]

On 27 February, activists in 2 cities – Beijing and Shanghai – out of the 23 originally suggested responded. Seven people were reportedly arrested in Shanghai and police kept reporters, participants and strollers moving. Since the organisers proposed for protesters to just walk by silently to protest, it was impossible to tell who were protesting and who were just regular strollers on the streets. [20] The Wall Street Journal stated, "while several Chinese people were seen having altercations with the police, there were no signs of actual protests." [4] [21]

Beijing Edit

Several foreign journalists were physically beaten by the police, with many others physically pushed by the police, their cameras confiscated and footage deleted. [22] The Wall Street Journal gave an eyewitness account of an incident in Beijing in which Bloomberg reporter Stephen Engle was "grabbed by several security officers, pushed to the ground, dragged along by his leg, punched in the head and beaten with a broom handle by a man dressed as street sweeper." [4] The Foreign Correspondents' Club of China denounced the attack on Engle, and called for journalists' physical safety to be guaranteed by the authorities. [4]

BBC reporter Damian Grammaticas accused state security of roughing up his crew. He said that they tried to grab equipment from the cameraman and took him 50 yards away into a police van. Grammaticas alleged the police officers then set on him, pulled him by the hair and generally treated him roughly. He also alleged that the police officers then threw the crew into a van and threatened them during their transport to a government office. [5]

CNN reporter Eunice Yoon reported that a policeman in Wangfujing knocked a camera out of her colleague Jo Ling Kent's hand and six police officers physically forced them into a bank, where they were detained for half an hour. [22] Yoon remarked after the incident that "there had been no protests for us to cover", and that the incident "show[ed] how incredibly terrified and paranoid the Chinese authorities are". [23] CBS News producer Connie Young was also forcefully carried off by plainclothes police officers and detained after she filmed VOA bureau chief, Stephanie Ho, being wrestled to the ground by plainclothes police officers. Ho was filming when she was quickly attacked and detained by uniformed and plainclothes police officers.

ATV journalists and a TVB cameraman were also reportedly briefly detained. ATV News reported that their footage at the rally site was deleted by officers. [24] Chinese security forces also visited a few Western journalists in their apartments with nighttime visits asking to behave "cooperatively." Otherwise, they warned, the authorities would refuse to extend their work permits at the end of the year. [25]

Shanghai Edit

In Shanghai on 27 February, protestors prevented police from arresting an elderly man, when they "reacted instantly and angrily, emitting a guttural roar and surging forward almost as one", according to the South China Morning Post. Protestors included elderly people and youths documenting the protest with cameras and phones. Some of the core participants appeared to be "deliberately obstructing police efforts to keep the crowd flowing". Other protestors spoke to foreign journalists and joked to each other about police difficulties in stopping "demonstrations that were not actually happening". [6]

Hong Kong Edit

27 people participated in a "Jasmine Revolution" demonstration in Hong Kong on 27 February, including activists from the Young Civics, they held placards that read "Long live people's power, long live democracy." 40 more participated in another protest outside the offices of the Central Government Liaison Office in Sheung Wan, for the second time in a week. Participants included Legco member Leung Kwok Hung aka Long Hair and activists from the League of Social Democrats. [26]

6 March Edit

Beijing was under tight security due to a session of the National People's Congress, and some 180,000 police and 560,000 security volunteers were already on patrol. [27] There was a heavy police presence on Sunday in parts of Beijing, Shanghai, [28] [29] [30] Guangzhou and Shenzhen to which protests had been called. [31] In Beijing, journalists saw no obvious sign of protesters. [28] Large contingents of plainclothed security personnel were reported in and around Wangfujing, Xidan and Zhongguancun. [31] In Shanghai, most news outlets reported an absence of obvious protestors. [28] [29] [30] However, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA) reported around a hundred protestors [32] "surrounded by hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes police." [33]

There were yet more reports of foreign journalists being detained in Shanghai, [31] [34] leading to sharp objections from the Foreign Ministries of Germany [32] and Australia. [35]

Members of the League of Social Democrats tried to place a branch of jasmine in front of the Central Government Offices in Hong Kong. [36]

13 March Edit

According to Deutsche Presse-Agentur, there were several hundred police in the Wangfujing and Xidan districts in Beijing, including uniformed police with dogs, paramilitary police, plainclothes police, special forces units and security guards. [37] More than 40 police were present at the Peace Cinema in Shanghai. [37] According to Agence France-Presse, "there was no massive police presence [at Wangfujing] as seen on previous Sundays." [27]

20 March Edit

In Beijing, hundreds of police were present at some of the eight proposed "strolling" protest locations in commercial areas and some police cars were present at entries to some of the 20 university sites proposed for protests. [38]

Arrests Edit

About 35 leading Chinese activists have been arrested or detained by authorities [27] including a leading Sichuan human rights activist Chen Wei, [3] Tiananmen Square protest student leader, Ding Mao, [3] well-known blogger Ran Yunfei, and Teng Biao of Open Constitutional Initiative. [2] [39] [40] Chengdu-based activist and legal advisor Li Shuangde, who was sentenced to four months in prison in on charges of credit card fraud, is considered the first to have been sentenced on "jasmine" related charges. [41] [42] Since the 19 February protest announcement, more than a hundred people have been summoned or questioned by police, [43] and up to 200 people are subject to reinforced supervision or house arrest. [44]

The highest-profile arrest is Ai Weiwei, who was taken into police custody on 3 April in Beijing. [45] Amid Boxun's online campaign, Ai had posted on his Twitter account on 24 February: "I didn’t care about jasmine at first, but people who are scared by jasmine sent out information about how harmful jasmine is often, which makes me realize that jasmine is what scares them the most. What a jasmine!" [46] [47] Ai's studio was raided by police, who took away computer equipment a number of his entourage were also arrested by police. [48] Analysts and other activists said Ai had been widely thought to be untouchable, but Nicholas Bequelin from Human Rights Watch suggested that his arrest, calculated to send the message that no-one would be immune, must have had the approval of someone in the top leadership. [49] The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on 7 April that Ai was under investigation for 'economic crimes'. [50]

Censorship Edit

China Mobile and China Unicom blocked the word "jasmine". [51] Searches for "jasmine" were also blocked [52] on China's largest microblog, Sina Weibo, and status updates with the word on Chinese social networking site Renren were met with an error message and a warning to refrain from postings with "political, sensitive . or other inappropriate content." [53]

Since the word "Jasmine" was forbidden in the Chinese blogosphere, millions of netizens used the term "two conferences" instead, a widely used expression in the official news originally pointing to the two conferences "Fourth Session of the Eleventh National People's Congress" and "Fourth Session of the Eleventh CPPCC" happening in March in Beijing. [54]

On 25 February, several foreign journalists were contacted by police and told that they could not conduct interviews without applying for permission. [3] Regulations issued by the Chinese government forbid entry by foreign reporters into the Wangfujing shopping district in Beijing or the People's Park in central Shanghai without a special permit. Enforcement of the new rules on Sunday 28 February resulted in beating of one camera operator and detention of several reporters for several hours before their release and confiscation of their materials. [55] [56]

Following calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" on Twitter, Chinese users of Twitter began to notice a number of new accounts, sometimes using the names or images of Chinese democracy activists. Tweets by the new accounts took a hostile position to calls for demonstrations. [57]

In late March, Google stated that intermittent problems with Gmail in the PRC constitute "a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail". PC Mag attributed the blockage to the calls for a "Jasmine Revolution" in the PRC. [58]

Other security measures Edit

More than 20 Chinese cities stepped up security measures, with armed forces ordered to stand by in case of emergency. [59] CPC General Secretary and President Hu Jintao delivered a speech in the Central Party School on 19 February instructing senior management to better manage social problems and internet incitement. [53] [60]

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei said that there were tight controls on university students to prevent students from participating in protests. He alleged that teachers had received "a certain note ordering them to do their duty, otherwise they will be in trouble, or their school will be in trouble." [61]

Jasmine flower ban Edit

On 10 May 2011, The New York Times reported that Beijing police had banned the sale of jasmine flowers at various flower markets, causing wholesale prices to collapse. Some vendors stated that Beijing police wanted written assurances that no jasmine flowers shall be sold in their stalls. The Guangxi Jasmine Development and Investment Company, organisers of the China International Jasmine Cultural Festival, said that officials cancelled the 2011 summer festival. [62]

Domestic Edit

A high level Chinese government official Zhao Qizheng said, on 23 February, that the probability of China having a "Jasmine Revolution" is "preposterous and unrealistic". [63]

Premier Wen Jiabao participated in a web chat on 27 February that France 24 described as an "apparent bid to defuse" the call for weekly gatherings. [19] In the webchat, he promised to deal with inflation, corruption, lack of housing, property speculation. [19] [43] The Financial Times (FT) claimed that the web chat was "announced abruptly late on [26 February] and appeared to be timed to coincide with the planned protests." [64] It added that with the web chat, "state media blanketed the nation over the internet, television and radio on Sunday morning with two hours of remarks by Wen Jiabao". [64] China News said that the webchat had been planned in advance similar webchats had taken place on 20 June 2008 and 27 February 2010. [65]

Wen Jiabao at NCPCC on 14 March 2011

Wu Bangguo's five "No's" Edit

Addressing the meeting of the National People's Congress, its chairman Wu Bangguo dismissed any notion of political reform, saying that Western-style democracy would have dire consequences, and that any loosening of the Party's hold on power could undermine stability and risk domestic strife, and he also advocated the five "no's" – no multi-party election no diversified guiding principles, no separation of powers, no federal system, and no privatization". [67] [68]

Wu, who belongs to the conservative faction of the leadership, said: "We have made a solemn declaration that we will not employ a system of multiple parties holding office in rotation diversify our guiding thought separate executive, legislative and judicial powers use a bicameral or federal system or carry out privatisation." Analysts said the warnings were aimed at consolidating the party's power, in reaction to calls for liberal democracy in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. [67] On the other hand, the more liberal Wen Jiabao said that economic and political reform, safeguarding social equity and justice were major factors behind China's success. He also rejected comparisons with Egypt and Tunisia, and reiterated his support for greater democracy and public supervision, saying economic development alone could not solve the problems of the mainland's development.

International Edit

Time suggested that though there are many similarities between the complaints voiced by the people in Arab Spring and those voiced by the Chinese people, the state's tighter grip on the country's media, Internet and other communication forums pose difficulties for anyone trying to organise mass demonstrations. [69]

The Wall Street Journal said that the online protest appeal could cause concern among Chinese Communist Party leaders, as other uprisings against authoritarian governments elsewhere could impact China. [70]

CNN journalist Eunice Yoon and her news crew headed out to Wangfujing to cover the "response to anonymous calls on the Internet to stage protests and begin a Tunisia-style "Jasmine Revolution" in China", [23] was physically handled by police in Beijing on 27 February at arrival near the protest site. She wrote: "What makes China's treatment of the international press so bewildering is that there had been no protests for us to cover here. My own experience and those of my colleagues show how incredibly terrified and paranoid the Chinese authorities are of any anti-government movement forming in China." [22]

Following the arrests of approximately 15 foreign journalists on 6 March, The Australian described the attempts at organising a "Jasmine Revolution" in China as "the biggest showdown between Chinese authorities and foreign media in more than two decades." [35]

The Atlantic reported that Hillary Clinton thinks the Chinese government is "scared" of the Arab rising. "They're worried, and they are trying to stop history, which is a fool's errand. They cannot do it. But they're going to hold it off as long as possible." [71]

Taiwan protests Edit

On 24 February, whilst visiting Kaohsiung to discuss economic ties between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan (ROC), Chen Yunlin, Chairman of Mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, [72] was mobbed by about 200 protesters at Kaohsiung Harbor. Some protesters threw chrysanthemum flowers at him (as Jasmine flowers were not in season), while others tried to deliver plastic jasmine flowers and juice to him. [72] [73] Earlier, at Kaohsiung Station, Chen had already encountered two groups of demonstrators, one supporting Taiwanese independence and another Chinese unification. Police claimed that the groups both numbered about 50 people. [72] About 300 Falun Gong followers also staged a protest. [72] On 8 March, the Democratic Progressive Party released a strongly worded statement condemning the use of force against participants of the "Jasmine Revolution" in China. The statement urged the government to incorporate values of democracy and human rights into agreements with Beijing when promoting cross-strait ties to encourage "China’s democratic transformation." [74]


China's silencing of Tiananmen tributes extends to Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) — For years, China has quashed any discussion on the mainland of its bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, nearly erasing what happened from the collective consciousness. Now it may be Hong Kong's turn, as China's ruling Communist Party pulls the city more directly into its orbit.

The semi-autonomous territories of Hong Kong and nearby Macao were for years the last places on Chinese soil allowed to publicly mark the events of June 4, 1989, when the People's Liberation Army opened fire on student-led protesters in a crackdown that left hundreds, if not thousands, dead.

Before last year, tens of thousands gathered annually in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park, lighting candles and singing songs to remember the victims. But authorities, citing the coronavirus pandemic, banned the vigil for the second straight year and, on the morning of Friday's anniversary, arrested an organizer of it. A temporary museum dedicated to the event also suddenly closed this week, after authorities investigated it for lacking the necessary licenses to hold a public exhibition.

Hong Kong’s security minister warned residents last week against taking part in unauthorized assemblies.

In mainland China, younger generations have grown up with little knowledge of or debate about the crackdown, but the efforts to suppress commemorations in Hong Kong reflect another turn of the screw in Beijing's ever-tightening control over Hong Kong following massive anti-government protests in 2019. Those demonstrations evolved into months of sometimes violent clashes between smaller groups of protesters and police. And they have led to a broader crackdown on dissent in the former British colony, which was long an oasis of capitalism and democracy and was promised that it would largely maintain its freedoms for 50 years when it was returned to China in 1997.

Since the protests, China has imposed a sweeping national security law aimed in part at stiffening the penalties for the actions that protesters engaged in, and authorities have sought to arrest nearly all of the city’s outspoken and prominent pro-democracy figures. Most are either behind bars or have fled the city.

Despite the restrictions this year, there are calls for Hong Kongers to remember the 1989 crackdown in private, with vigil organizers calling on residents to light a candle at 8 p.m. Friday no matter where they are.

Online calls circulating on social media also urged residents to dress in black on Friday. Local newspaper Ming Pao last week published an article suggesting that residents write the numbers six and four on their light switches — a nod to the June 4 date — so each flip of the switch is also an act of remembrance.

For decades, Chan Kin Wing has regularly attended the vigil in Hong Kong.

“I was lucky to have been born in Hong Kong. If I had been born on the mainland, I could have been one of the students in Tiananmen Square that day,” said Chan, whose parents had fled to Hong Kong from the mainland in the 1960s.

“When June 4, 1989, happened, all of Hong Kong witnessed the indelible historical event of students massacred by a corrupt regime,” Chan said.

This year, Chan plans to remember the event privately, dressing in black and changing his profile picture on social media to an image of a lit candle in the dark.

“I’ve resolved to never forget about June 4, and strive to pass on memories of it to ensure it’s never forgotten,” he said.

In mainland China, the group Tiananmen Mothers that represents victims’ relatives published an appeal on the Human Rights in China website urging the party to heed their long-held demands for a complete release of official records about the crackdown, compensation for those killed and injured, and for those responsible to be held to account.

“We look forward to the day when the CPC and the Chinese government can sincerely and courageously set the record straight and take up their due responsibility for the anti-human 1989 massacre in accordance with the law and the facts,” the statement said.

The government, however, seems intent on running out the clock on such appeals.

While Tiananmen Mothers said 62 of its members have died since the group was founded in the late 1990s, many young Chinese, it said, have “grown up in a false sense of prosperous jubilance and enforced glorification of the government (and) have no idea of or refuse to believe what happened on June 4, 1989, in the nation’s capital.”

Hong Kong police on Friday detained a leader of the alliance that organizes the vigil and runs the museum that commemorated the event.

Chow Hang Tung had told The Associated Press in an interview last week that earlier arrests and convictions of prominent activists have had a chilling effect on those who participated in the vigil in the past.

“There will obviously be fear and people cannot just assume that they can come and express their remembrance for the Tiananmen massacre victims and be unscathed,” said Chow, vice chair of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.

She said that what keeps her going is the dream that China and Hong Kong can both have democracy one day. The tide, though, appears to be going in the other direction.

“This is something worth fighting for,” she said. “If one day we cannot talk about Tiananmen that would signify that Hong Kong is totally assimilated into Chinese society.”


32 Photos Show the Hope and Despair of Tiananmen Square

Pro-democracy demonstrators were massacred by government forces 32 years ago today.

It is a testament to just what a monumental challenge the protests in Tiananmen Square posed to China's authoritarian government that the People's Liberation Army responded to them with such force 30 years ago today. Even now, that same government is working to scrub the resulting bloodshed from the national memory. Hong Kong has been banned from commemorating the events of June 4, 1989 as the central government in Beijing strengthens its grip on the city, though the stated reason for the ban is the risk of gatherings during a pandemic. It is up to the rest of the world, then, to remember. Here are some of the most striking photos from that day, and what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre.


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Contents

Death of Hu Yaobang [ edit ]

The initial student protests in Tiananmen began in response to the death of the hugely popular Chinese liberal politician Hu Yaobang . Hu was a supporter of both Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms, as well as a greater push for increased political freedom. ⎖] In an attempt to address youth unrest in 1986, Yaobang proposed legislation which would have introduced a certain extent of press freedom. ⎗] In retaliation for this disloyalty, China's communist "conservatives" forced him to resign from the Party and issue a self-criticism he died two years later. ⎖] These circumstances surrounding his death turned him into a martyr for the cause of Chinese democracy he was a man who fought for freedom and was crushed by the state.

Within days of his death, Chinese students turned out in Tiananmen to mourn him. This became a major headache for the Party, as they believed a protest celebrating the life of someone politically impure could easily spiral into something dangerous. Indeed, although the protests began in mourning, they developed into a larger call for liberalization following Hu's ideas. ⎘]

Protests for democracy [ edit ]

Initially, the intent of the protests was not to challenge the regime. The students sought to portray themselves as disappointed but loyal supporters of the Party's leadership, and the Party accordingly took a conciliatory attitude towards the demonstrators. Β] Internally, however, the Party was divided over how harsh their response to the unrest should be. However, the beginning of hunger strikes among thousands of the protesters caused the movement to gain momentum across the nation. ⎙] On May 4 th , students read a list of demands calling on the government to introduce constitutionally protected freedoms, fight corruption, adopt a version of Hu's press freedom law, and allow the publication of private newspapers. Β] Despite what tankies and U.S conservatives say however, the protesters were not limited to liberal students, but also frustrated workers such as Beijing Workers' Autonomous Federation angry at the growing amount of political corruption and social inequality caused by Deng's reforms, and wanting a more egalitarian form of socialism. The Internationale , a popular socialist and communist anthem, became a rallying cry of the protesters. ⎚]

Zhao Ziyang , a high-ranking civil servant directly below Deng, was the main proponent for peacefully negotiating with the protesters. However, during Zhao's visit to North Korea, Party hardliners met with Deng Xiaoping to convince him that the protests were an unacceptable threat. ⎛] This would be a major motivation for Deng's declaration of martial law later in May. Now very worried, Deng ordered Chinese state media to publish a tract denouncing the student protests as a series of "riots" by a "small minority", language which was meant to evoke bad memories of Mao's Cultural Revolution . ⎜] This, however, had the opposite of the intended effect. The students were angrier and more determined than ever before, and the government had locked itself into a confrontational stance towards the movement.

By mid-May, the Party was on its last nerve. This was due to the approaching deadline of Gorby's high-profile visit to Beijing, which would have seen him visit Tiananmen Square for his welcoming ceremony and potentially personally witness the embarrassing public uprising. ⎝] Attempts to negotiate with the protesters in time for the Soviet summit failed, and Gorbachev's welcoming ceremony had to be downsized and hastily relocated to the airport. ⎞] Ultimately, in the eyes of the foreign press, the domestic problems facing China managed to largely overshadow the symbolically important visit from the Soviet premier. As you might imagine, this pissed Deng off something fierce.

Despite negotiating an end to the hunger strikes on May 19 th , the Party declared martial law in Beijing. Ώ] Protesters, however, remained in large numbers.

During this time, squabbles between the protesters themselves also began to show. Some scholars argued that the sidelining of moderates by hardliners in both the government and protest camps made the confrontation tragically inevitable. ⎟] One of the protest leaders, Chai Ling , was taped in a controversial interview where she lamented that fellow protesters were being too conciliatory with the government in wanting to eventually end the protests, thus "unworthy" of her sacrifice, and hoped that students can provoke the government into violence so the Chinese can "open their eyes", but declined to remain in the Square herself for fear of her life. Chai fled to the USA after the massacre, and later sued the creators of the documentary The Gate of Heavenly Peace for using her taped statement, accusing them of being "aligned with Satan" and being sympathetic to the CCP, despite the documentary itself being banned there. ⎠] Chai's defamation lawsuit drew her wide condemnation from fellow dissidents and she ultimately lost.


From April 1989 people from across China gathered in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to mourn the death of the liberal Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang and share their frustrations about the slow pace of promised reform.

The gathering turned into peaceful protests which spread across the provinces of China as demonstrators, mainly students, began to call for an end to official corruption and for political and economic reform.

On May 13, hundreds of student protesters in Tiananmen Square went on hunger strike in order to speak push for talks with Communist Party leaders. It is estimated that one million people joined the protests in Beijing to express their support for the students on hunger strike and to demand reform.

Party leaders visited the student protests on May 19. The protesters ended their hunger strike that evening. However, the next day martial law was declared in Beijing to ‘firmly stop the unrest’.

In the weeks that followed the declaration of martial law, hundreds of thousands of people once again protested on the streets of Beijing, with similar demonstrations taking place in cities across China.

Overnight on 3 to June 4, the government sent tens of thousands of armed troops and hundreds of armored military vehicles into the city centre to enforce martial law and forcibly clear the streets of demonstrators. The government wanted to 'restore order' in the capital.

As they approached the demonstrations, troops opened fire on crowds of protesters and onlookers. They gave no warning before they started shooting.

As the troops kept firing into the crowds, some of those running away were shot in the back. Others were crushed to death by military vehicles. No one knows the death toll from Tiananmen that night, but estimates range from several hundred to several thousand.


How a peaceful protest at Tiananmen Square turned into a massacre

Pro-democracy students march through Tiananmen Square in Beijing to demand more democratic rule in Communist China.

Its name means “gate of heavenly peace,” but in 1989 the iconic gate at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square overlooked a scene that was anything but peaceful. Earlier that year, the square had been the site of non-violent pro-democracy protests. But on June 3 and 4, it became a scene of chaos and devastation as the Chinese military mowed down an unknown number of civilians. In the 30 years since the historic protests, China has rarely acknowledged them—and has never apologised for the massacre.

The protest movement began after the death of Hu Yaobang, a Communist Party leader who worked to liberalise Chinese politics, but was ousted from the party in part for his sympathy with pro-democracy students. In the wake of his death from a heart attack, mourning students poured into Tiananmen Square in late April. They began to demand democratic reforms, including an end to press censorship and restrictions on freedom of assembly.

Over the next few weeks, the square drew millions of protestors. In response to their ballooning numbers, China imposed martial law in late May and ousted Western reporters. Then, on the night of June 3, the People’s Liberation Army moved in with orders to clear the square.

The next day, 200,000 troops and more than 100 tanks converged on Tiananmen Square and opened fire. Soldiers used bayonets, clubs, and rifles loaded with expanding bullets. Although students and residents resisted, they were overwhelmed. (Hear from two photojournalists who are still haunted by the massacre.)

The image of “Tank Man,” who briefly stopped a convoy of tanks driving out of Tiananmen Square, has become iconic globally. But the fate of the man remains unknown.

The Western world learned of the massacre from smuggled images and secret reports. Among them were videos and photos of Tank Man, an unidentified Chinese man who managed momentarily to stop a convoy of tanks leaving the square on June 5. He is thought to be one of multiple people who attempted to block the tanks. Although his image has become a symbol of resistance, his fate remains unknown.

The extent of the massacre is also unknown. The Chinese government stated that 200 civilians were killed student leaders claim up to 3,400 deaths. In 2017, the United Kingdom released a secret diplomatic cable in which a U.K. diplomat relayed a leaked death count—of at least 10,000— from China’s main administrative body. Some 1,600 people were arrested it would take 27 years for Miao Deshun, thought to be the final prisoner, to walk free in 2016.

An accurate death toll may never come to light. The Chinese government has rarely acknowledged the events when it does, it is only to defend its actions. Although Tiananmen Square’s Great Hall was added to a list of Chinese architectural sites slated for official preservation, the historic events that took place there are not widely known in China.

A Hong Kong museum devoted to the massacre has been repeatedly closed and sabotaged many of its Chinese visitors arrive knowing nothing about the protests. Those who do sometimes refuse to believe the truth, writes The Atlantic’s Ryan Krull. “Beijing’s refusal to acknowledge the events of June 4, 1989, has created a vacuum into which misinformation, ignorance, and revisionism have been allowed to flow.” Meanwhile, China actively censors most online mentions of the incident, and only Hong Kong and Macau have been allowed to commemorate it publicly.

The pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square presented a brief window of hope that China might embrace a more democratic system. “There was a euphoric sense that after decades of tyranny, the Chinese people had found the courage to take full control of their lives and attempt to change the fate of their nation,” recalled London-based Chinese novelist Ma Jian, who attended the protests. “Every person in that crowd was later a victim of the massacre, whether they lost their life on June 4 or survived—their ideals shattered and their soul scarred by fear.”

Now, 31 years after the protests and massacre, China has banned a commemoration vigil in Hong Kong that has taken place since the 1990s. Although the official reason for the ban was to quell the further spread of COVID-19, pro-democracy activists see it as another attempt to quash peaceful protest as China tightens its grip on Hong Kong. Thousands attended the vigil anyway, as the BBC reports. Three decades after Tiananmen Square, commemorating what happened there has become its own form of protest.


Watch the video: Όλα έτοιμα για το Συλλαλητήριο για τη Μακεδονία στο Σύνταγμα Ακραίως, 20119 (June 2022).

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