The link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeFzeNAHEhU is a raw footage of a brave Chinese man blockading a tank in Tiananmen Square. It’s hard to believe the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989 happened 26 years ago. For those of you who don’t know what this event was: the Tiananmen Square protest, commonly known as the June Fourth Incident (六四事件) or ’89 Democracy Movement (八九民运), were led by student demonstrations in Beijing during late spring of 1989. Around that time there was an increasing view among university students and others in China for political and economic reform. Student-led testaments pleaded for more individual rights and freedoms in late 1986 and early 1987, which caused hard-liners in the government and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to suppress them. One fatality of this tougher outlook was Communist Party General Hu Yaobang, a liberal reformer who had encouraged democratic reforms; in January 1987 he was forced to resign his post. He died April 15, 1989.
Many students who protested received ample support from city residents. Unfortunately, protesters were forcibly restrained by hardline leader Deng Xiaoping and other elder leaders who ordered the military to execute martial law in Beijing on May 20, and mobilized as many as 300,000 troops to Beijing. Students and other protesters engaged in this act for seven weeks straight. Crime spread on June 3-4 as armed forces with assault rifles and tanks inflicted casualties on vulnerable, weaponless civilians who tried to block the military’s advance towards Tiananmen Square. The number of civilian deaths has sky rocketed from anywhere between hundreds of thousands, and it has been estimated that as many as 10,000 people were seized during and after the protests. Some of these college students may very well still be in jail today, while others have escaped to different countries all over the world.
This event is so significant and is one that we will never forget. Coming from a Chinese family myself, it is the true definition and action of protesting. For so many people who wanted to have a say in what they thought was best for Chinese government, in return they were shot down, locked away, and this day is prohibited to be spoken of in Beijing. Today if people carried around posters with the numbers “6” or “4” they would get in trouble. If you even utter a word about this event, there will be consequences. Today there is only one place to hold a memorial for the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989 and that is in Hong Kong. Over 100,000 people commemorate this event. Even though Hong Kong is under China’s rule they have the willpower to express what is thought to be one of the most powerful events in Chinese history. The video is footage that should be preserved, exhibited, and presented as a piece of once lost footage that is now found and will remain just as important to us as it was 26 years ago.
-Meghan Ng (Section 08)