Thursday, June 4, 2015

26th Anniversary of June 4th Tiananmen Square massacre

Never forget. Never give up.

Today across the world friends of freedom are gathering to remember and honor those who perished in what became known as the Tiananmen Square massacre. In Hong Kong there is a live feed of the event there that starts at 5:00am EST. More information is available here.

Hong Kong university students hold vigil on Tiananmen Square anniversary
Another event starts at 10:30am EST at the Victims of Communism Memorial located on Massachusetts and New Jersey Avenue, Northwest, Washington DC where there is a bronze facsimile of the papier-mâché “Goddess of Democracy” statue that the protestors erected over the course of those fateful days. Dr. Yang Jianli (Initiatives for China) and Marion Smith (Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation) will make remarks and guests are invited to come lay a wreath or flowers to honor the memory of those lives cut short in June of 1989 by the Chinese People's Liberation Army on the orders of the one party dictatorship that still remains in power there today. 

Victims of Communism Memorial in Washington DC
Below is a playlist of videos beginning with a song by Chinese rocker Cui Jian who played a concert for the students in Tiananmen Square during the protests and prior to the crackdown. Following the music video is the documentary Tankman, then a live feed to the candlelight vigil in Hong Kong finally the documentary, The Gates of Heavenly Peace (both in English and Chinese).

In memory of those who stood up for their rights, lost their lives and for those still unjustly imprisoned today in China.

Abbreviated Time line of the June 1989 crackdown and massacre
 30 May 1989 - Goddess of Democracy is unveiled: During the previous night, students of the Central Academy of Fine Arts assemble the 37-foot-high statue of the Goddess of Democracy, built in two days out of plaster and styrofoam. It stands opposite the giant portrait of Mao Zedong.

2 June 1989 - Hunger strike by Capital Joint Liaison Group: The Liaison Group, now composed solely of intellectuals, decides to stage a series of 72-hour hunger strikes to show the students that others too are ready to put their lives at risk. Literary critic Liu Xiaobo, rock star Hou Dejian, and economist Zhou Duo are among the first to start fasting.

- Communist party elders approve plan to put down the protests by force

The Goddess of Democracy

3 June 1989 - Troops are ordered to reclaim Tiananmen Square at all cost. They begin to open fire upon people blocking the advancement of the army and also on people who are just shouting at the troops. Tanks and armored vehicles move towards the center of the city. An unknown number of Beijing citizens die, succumbing to gun shots—sometimes at point blank—or crushed by tanks and armored personnel carriers. In angry retaliation, civilians throw stones at the soldiers, who shoot back. Some soldiers are attacked and beaten up. Buses and cars are set on fire.

Victims of the massacre
4 June 1989 1:00 a.m. The troops have blocked off all approaches to Tiananmen Square. Various people who witnessed the killings of civilians report to the BWAF and to the students’ Command Headquarters, urging them to withdraw.
3:00 a.m. Liu Xiaobo, Hou Dejian, Zhou Duo and a fourth men who began the second hunger strike negotiate with the troops to allow the students to leave the Square.
4:00 a.m. On the square the lights go off. The statue of the Goddess of Democracy is toppled by a tank.
4:30 a.m. The tanks and the troops stationed in the north corner of the Square begin to move forward. Students vote and eventually agree to leave. The soldiers shoot out the students’ loud speakers. Led by the Command Headquarters, the students walk away from the Monument to the People’s Heroes toward the southeast part of the square. A row of armored vehicles moves slowly toward the monument. Other troops arrive from the west, squeezing the crowd. As the students leave, army tanks crush tents on their way. The student guards are the last to leave, with soldiers about 18 feet behind them firing warning shots.
5:00 a.m. As the students pass Qianmen, residents line the streets and applaud. The army throws tear gas and shoots at students and citizens near the square and in other areas of the capital. Some people are crushed under tanks. The number of victims is not known.
6:20 a.m. Tanks crush retreating students.

5 June 1989 - Final act of defiance. An unarmed men blocks a column of tanks as they rolled towards Tiananmen Square. He's taken away by men in plainclothes. 22 years later his identity remains unknown.


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