Remembering Tiananmen

Today marks the 23rd anniversary of Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in Beijing, China. Inflation, a lack of career prospects, the fall of Eastern European communism, and political corruption, are all said to have fueled anger in China in 1989. Students led peaceful protests, but the government responded with force – arresting protesters, using violence that injured and killed at least hundreds, exercising strict control over media coverage, and aiming to erase the protest’s message altogether. To this day, Chinese government officials continue to monitor any activism or suppress commemoration of the events. I reported on the 20th anniversary: CHINATIANANMENMixdown

The U.S. State Department released a statement on the anniversary that angered Chinese officials, stating, “We encourage the Chinese government to release all those still serving sentences for their participation in the demonstrations; to provide a full public accounting of those killed, detained or missing; and to end the continued harassment of demonstration participants and their families.”

Will Chinese government ever recognize the Tiananmen protests? What message does oppression of the memory send to the world? Is anyone in China reading this and can share comments?

2 thoughts on “Remembering Tiananmen

  1. Thank you for sharing that very personal account of the “Wujek Mine” in Poland. I cannot say that I can “imagine” what it must have been like, because I’ve been lucky to never experience atrocity. To witness such suppression in many ways – firsthand and through eye witness accounts – has left a major impression, as you say. What saddens me the most is the use of force in peaceful protests. A life lost is a life lost no matter how many people are killed or where it occurs, and it is a tragedy. We can only hope that certain governments recognize the importance of reforms, allow freedom of speech, and stop treading on human rights.

  2. As my name suggests, I’m not Chinese but your post triggered powerful memories. I cannot recall where I was when the news about Tiananmen square events reached me, but all those years later I know that I felt strongly for the protesters. Although thousands of miles away from me at that time, they touched a nerve. And so did your post now…
    Why? Well, many years ago, in my native Poland, I was very close to the tragic events that took place just 2 miles away from where I lived then.
    On December 13, 1981, in response to a brutal arrest of their Solidarity organization leader the coal miners of “Wujek” mine in Katowice (South Poland) started as a peaceful occupational strike demanding the release of their leader. Later they pleaded to annul the state of emergency and the release of all other political prisoners. For those of you who are not familiar with the situation, Solidarity movement in Poland came as a response to long time violation of democratic and human rights imposed by the Communistic regime in Poland.
    What was meant as a peaceful event turned into a masacre 3 days later. The protesting coal miners, supplied by the local residents with food, drinks, cigarettes etc. were crushed by the overwhelming forces of the police, secret service forces and the army.
    Tanks, yes TANKS, helicopters dropping tear gas canisters, live ammunition were used to to end it all. And it ended 9 lives… And left many severely injured.
    One may say that 9 victims do not compare to hundreds lost in China and many more (including children) dying from the hands of the fellow country men in Syria today. But this is MY experience. I heard the shots, I saw the tanks, I talked to the families of the victims and read the accounts of the eye witnesses years later.
    It took major reforms and establishment of democracy system in Poland to recognize those who perished in December 1981.
    In 1991 a monument commemorating the lives lost in “Wujek Mine” was erected; and in the late 2008-2009th the responsible communist commanders were sentenced.
    But the wound is still there…

    I am not a Mother Theresa, or Joanne d’Arc, or any fighter for a “cause” but I feel strongly for the minorities suppressed by the regimes. I hope that with the advent of China on the economic scene a time for reflection, commeration and humility will follow.

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