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Beijing-Tiananmen Massacre ’89






32 Years Later
The Sea of Humanity & Tiananmen Man
June 5, 2021 (or May 36, 2021
)



Communist dictatorships fear nonviolent demonstrations and mass protests, because that's their origin story, and 1989 was a banner year for change. The Chinese student and worker protests in May of 1989 were brutally squashed in June of 1989, like people on bicycles under tanks.

Ancient history? Hardly. The 
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remains frightened of its people, of an uprising. On the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, a white-washing campaign has hit the Internet to make records of the massacre harder to find.

But not impossible.


Beijing Massacre Slide 1
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604
Students gathered for pro-democracy reforms around China after the sudden death of reformer Hu Yaobang. The largest student gathering was at Tiananmen Square in smoggy Beijing.
Tiananmen Square is the largest public space in the world, created on an inhuman scale. The monumental public buildings that line the edges and the vast, treeless spaces in between speak of the insignificance of the individual before the might of the state. Fill it with protesters and the inhuman scale of Tiananmen is tipped to a sea of humanity.

Beijing Massacre Slide 2
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604
Reform protesters gather in Tiananmen Square on May 4, 1989. While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had silenced previous demonstrations, the violent retaking of the square on June 4, 1989, was so brutal that it has since become known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. It was a massacre, but nearly all of the thousands of deaths occurred outside the square itself and in other parts of the city. It could more accurately be called the Beijing Massacre but the symbol is Tiananmen Square. We still don’t know how many people died there, as the Chinese government has done everything in its power to suppress and forget about the activities that took place that day. The estimates are that a minimum of 10,000 people were killed. The most specific, credible number is 10,454 killed.

Beijing Massacre Slide 3
Tiananmen Square protests 198905 - press conference
A pro-democracy movement leader talks into a microphone as he gives a press conference in Tiananmen Square. According to The Independent, a secret British cable from the time (slide 37) alleged that a minimum of 10,000 people were massacred that day. Those who were merely wounded were simply bayoneted to death as they pleaded for mercy. Victims were then incinerated — and “hosed down the drains.” Much of the collective understanding of this historic violence and the surrounding Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 has been based on presumably false data from the CCP.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 4
Tiananmen Square protests 198905 - leader of the pro-democracy protests speaks to the crowds through a golden bullhorn
Before the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the CCP was desperate to quash what they saw as “bourgeois liberalism,” a broad phrase suggesting several kinds of resistance to the government’s strict and repressive political doctrine. China’s educated youth were fed up with that very repressiveness as well as the country’s wealth being funneled to corrupt leaders at the top only for price inflations and poor job prospects to burden the masses. Hu Yaobang, a general secretary in the CCP since 1980, had been encouraging the government to listen to its citizenry. He fought from within to sway his peers into supporting democratic reforms and providing the youth with more opportunities. By 1987, he was ousted, and forced to resign. On April 15, 1989, he died — and became an immediate martyr to those fighting for his cause. Tens of thousands of students organized a protest at Tiananmen Square on the day of Hu’s funeral, April 22. While similar efforts were undertaken in cities across China, Beijing’s demonstration was the focal point of this national movement. At the same time, countless journalists were in Beijing to report on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s arrival that May. Soon after, it was no longer just a student protest; the number of protesters in Tiananmen Square reached 1 million — and garnered global media coverage.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 5
Tiananmen Square protests 19890525 - highschool students for reforms
Waving banners, high school students march in Beijing streets near Tiananmen Square on May 25, 1989, during a rally to support the protest against the Chinese government.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 6
Tiananmen Square protests 19890524 - worker groups joined students for reforms
Regular workers, regular people joined the protests. This picture was from May 24, 1989. Pilots had their banners. The army and navy were there. Doctors and nurses waved their banners. Journalists had banners promoting the right to tell the truth.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 7
Tiananmen Square protests 198905 - victory belongs to us forever
A chalk board in Tiananmen Square declares, “Victory belongs to us forever!” in English for the western journalists.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 8
Tiananmen Square protests 19890518 - a group of workers ride motorcycles and wave flags in support of student hunger strikers
Riding motorcycles and waving flags, Chinese workers parade through Beijing streets on May 18, 1989, in support of student hunger strikers.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 9
Tiananmen Square protests 198905 - students from a Beijing nursing school look after student hunger strikers
Students from a Beijing nursing school attend to hunger strikers during the protests.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 10
Tiananmen Square protests 198905 - paramedics evacuate a student hunger striker
Paramedics evacuate an ailing hunger striker from Beijing University at Tiananmen Square, as students enter the fifth day of hunger strikes.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 11
Tiananmen Square protests 19890601 - protesters bring the Goddess of Democracy to Tiananmen Square
Demonstrators cart the Goddess of Democracy to Tiananmen Square on June 1st. The statue was loosely based on the Statue of Liberty to represent their desire for a more democratic rule in Communist China. Once erected in Tiananmen Square, this proved to be the last act of defiance by protesters before the massacre began.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 12
Tiananmen Square protests 19890601 - the Goddess of Democracy statue ready to be unveiled
Crowds of people watch the unveiling of the Goddess of Democracy sculpture in Tiananmen Square. Protesters usually topple statues. They usually don't put new statues up.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 13
Tiananmen Square protests 19890601 - banners fly while the Goddess of Democracy statue looks on
Banners wave while the Goddess of Democracy statue looks on. Is she holding ice cream? It looks like ice cream.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 14
Tiananmen Square protests 19890521 - the army meets with protesters
The CCP declared martial law on May 20 and mobilized at least 30 People's Army divisions from five of the country's seven military regions. As many as 250,000 troops were eventually sent to Beijing. The army's entry into the capitol was blocked in the suburbs by throngs of protesters.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 15
Tiananmen Square protests 19890520 - Beijing citizens surround army trucks
Tens of thousands of demonstrators surrounded military vehicles, preventing them from either advancing or retreating. PBS Frontline 2410 - April 11, 2006 (transcript).

Beijing Massacre — Slide 16
Tiananmen Square protests 19890520 - Beijing citizens lectured army soldiers
Local residents lectured soldiers and appealed to them to join their cause. They were asked why the People's Army should be attacking the people. Brother soldiers, you should be defenders of the people. PBS Frontline 2410 - April 11, 2006 (transcript).

Beijing Massacre — Slide 17
Tiananmen Square protests 19890520 - Beijing citizens gave army soldiers food and water
Locals also provided soldiers with food, water, and shelter. And ice cream. From PBS Frontline 2410 - April 11, 2006 (transcript).

Beijing Massacre — Slide 18
Tiananmen Square protests 19890522 - Beijing citizens gave army soldiers food and water
Beijing residents provided soldiers with food, water, and shelter.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 19
Tiananmen Square protests 19890524 - the People's Army left Beijing to rearm against the people
Seeing no way forward, the CCP ordered the army to withdraw on May 24th, regroup at bases outside the city, and rearm (with AK-47s and type 56 rifles with bayonets).

Beijing Massacre — Slide 20
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - reform demonstrators pull barricades across Changan Avenue
On the fourth of June, just before the massacre, pro-democracy reform demonstrators pulled barricades across Changan Avenue in order to try and hold up People's Army soldiers fighting their way towards Tiananmen Square.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 21
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - reform demonstrators tip over a bus on Changan Avenue
Does this bus go to Tiananmen?Demonstrators overturn a bus in front of a burning truck on Changan Avenue in order to try to hold up soldiers.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 22
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - destruction

Beijing Massacre — Slide 23
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - destruction
How many People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers does it take to beat a man and his bicycle?!? Obviously from the fourth of June 1989.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 24
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - destruction
Buses and vehicles burn as demonstrators retreat down Changan Avenue during the Tiananmen Square massacre on the fourth of June 1989.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 25
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - not showing this
I'm not showing this. What you are not seeing is a dead soldier with uh... an open mind. On the fourth of June, the People's Army did not just kill over 10,000 civilians. The People's Army also killed 27 of its own soldiers. Judging from the reaction of some of the civilians, that may have happened in the picture that would have been here. War is a disgusting hell. I once played paintball and shot my own teammates. It was ugly but nothing like this.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 26
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - not showing this either
What you don't see here is another picture of a thoroughly dead soldier. The number of different ways this soldier was killed (hanged, gutless, burned, impaled) screams out that this was the PLA at play. He had to be one of the 27.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 27
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - a wounded protester is carried away
A wounded protester is carried away.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 28
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - a wounded protester is carted away
A wounded protester is carted away.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 29
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - not showing a large pile of bodies
What I'm not showing here is a large pile of bodies in a corner of the Capitol hospital. This photo that is not shown is credited to Dario Mitidien and Getty Images.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 30
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - bodies and bikes litter the streets
Bodies and bikes litter the streets of Beijing on the fourth of June 1989.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 31
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - more bodies and bikes litter the streets
More bodies and bikes litter the streets of Beijing on the fourth of June 1989.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 32
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - still more bodies and bikes litter the streets
Still more bodies and bikes litter the streets of Beijing on the fourth of June 1989.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 33
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - barriers still litter the streets
Barriers, buses, and destruction litter the streets.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 34
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - armoured personnel carrier with crushed bikes stuck to its side
An armored personnel carrier with flattened bicycles stuck to its side, near Tiananmen Square on June 4th.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 35
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - bikes flattened by tanks
Bicycles flattened by tanks.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 36
Tiananmen Square protests 19890604 - buses flattened by tanks
Buses flattened by tanks.

Beijing Massacre — Slide 37
Beijing Massacre 19890605 - Sir Alan Donald cable
Previously secret cable from Sir Alan Donald (then British ambassador to China) from June 5, 1989 described the events of the previous 2 days. “The atrocities against thousands of pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square had been coordinated by the 27 Army of Shanxi Province. The 27 Army APCs [armored personnel carriers] opened fire on the crowd before running over them. APCs ran over troops and civilians at 65kph [40 miles per hour]. The bodies were [repeatedly] run over... and remains collected by bulldozer.

Tiananmen Man — Tank Man Slide 38
Tank Man 19890605 by Terril Jones AP
This photo of Tank Man near Tiananmen Square on the fifth of June 1989 was taken by Associated Press photographer Terril Jones using a Nikon F-801 SLR camera. Tank Man is the fourth smallest man in the picture near the bus on the left. The bicyclist may be the same bicyclist that rode over to Tank Man after the confrontation with the tanks. This is a great picture, only revealed to the world in 2009.

Tiananmen Man — Tank Man Slide 39
Tank Man 19890605 by Stuart Franklin
This photo of 
Tank Man near Tiananmen Square on the fifth of June 1989 was taken by Stuart Franklin and gives a sense of scale to this lone man defiantly stopping a column of tanks after all the events of the preceding weeks.

Tiananmen Man — Tank Man Slide 40
Tank Man 19890605 by Jeff Widener
This photo of 
Tank Man near Tiananmen Square on the fifth of June 1989 was taken by Jeff Widener AP, from a sixth-floor balcony of the Beijing Hotel, using a Nikon FE2 camera through a Nikkor 400mm 5.6 ED-IF lens and TC-301 teleconverter. Or else it was taken by Charlie Cole AP, who was also photographing from a balcony of the Beijing Hotel. I'm not certain.

The story of 
Tank Man is a short story. You don't have to sit down for this one. After the horrendous massacre of over 10,000 people in Beijing in June of 1989, an unknown man was crossing Changan Avenue with his jacket and a white plastic bag of groceries. He sees more than a dozen type-59 tanks coming down the wide road. He stops in front of them. They stop in front of him. He yells at the front tank. He waves his arms. They move to go around him. He gets back in their way. The tank shuts off its engine. He continues to yell at them. He climbs the tank and yells at them. He climbs down the side. They start back up. He gets back in their way. People come and escort him away. (Tank Man video by CNN)

The defiance.

The strength of character.

The will to say, “Enough is enough.

Great.


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