Tiananmen Square, 1989


30 years ago, in April 1989, people from across China gathered in Tiananmen square to mourn the death of Communist party leader Hu Yaobang. This led to peaceful protests across China (the majority of the protesters being students). They were protesting for “an end to official corruption and for political and economic reform”. On May 13 student protesters went on strike tin an attempt to talk to the communist party leaders. There was supposedly one million people who joined the protest in Beijing. The party leaders met the protesters on May 19 and the hunger strike ended. On May 20 martial law, in an attempt to restore order, was declared and thousands of protesters took to the streets across China in the following weeks.

The official China news agency said on May 1 that ” ‘The troops are by no means targeted at the students. Under no circumstances will [the troops] harm innocent people, let alone young students.” On the 3rd / 4th of June the government sent thousands of armed troops along with hundreds of military vehicles into the city center. This was done to clear the streets of protesters and hopefully restore order without violence. whilst approaching the crowds, and without warning, they opened fire. Some civilians killed by gunshot, other crushed below tanks and other military vehicles. Nobody knows how many died but estimates range between hundreds to several thousand.

After the protest, the Chinese hunted down people involved in the protests. Thousands of people were unfairly tried and then tortured, executed or put into prison. This is known as the Tiananmen crackdown. The crackdown along with the attacks are a taboo subject in China and has been censored. You can be punished for talking about it in public. However, China’s defense minister, Wei Fenghe was asked a question during a regional forum in Singapore about Tiananmen. He defended the crackdown, stating “That incident was a political turbulence and the central government took measures to stop the turbulence, which is a correct policy,”.

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