Thirty three years ago the Chinese Pro-Democracy Movement that had taken to the streets in April of 1989 and occupied Tiananmen Square for months was violently crushed by the Chinese communist dictatorship beginning on the evening of June 3, 1989. By dawn on June 4, 1989 scores of demonstrators were shot and killed or run over and crushed by tanks of the so-called "People's Liberation Army."
George Orwell wrote in "As I Please" in the Tribune on February 4, 1944 that "[t]he really frightening thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits 'atrocities' but that it attacks the concept of objective truth; it claims to control the past as well as the future."
We are witnessing this attempt to silence the victims, and rewrite the history of the 1989 Tiananmen protests and the crackdown and massacre that began on June 3, 1989 through social media.
Last night participated in a candlelight vigil hosted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and on Saturday, June 4th starting at 11:00am in Rockville, MD free Chinese will hold a Freedom from Tyranny Rally.
On this #June4th, we will be setting up a HK booth at the Memorial Rally in Rockville, Maryland to promote #HongKong & our recent events. Our director @frances_hui will also appear at the rally as a speaker. Please join us! https://t.co/mlWjXruVT9 pic.twitter.com/jHxfgaRwGS— We The Hongkongers (@wethehongkonger) June 3, 2022
Some Tiananmen mothers hold up photos of their loved ones
Thirty-three years ago, a brutal tragedy of unparalleled savagery occurred in China, sending shockwaves across the nation and around the world. The ruling Communist Party of China and the Chinese government, in complete disregard of the lives of the hundreds of thousands of students and common people along the ten-mile Chang’an Avenue, used the military to indiscriminately murder innocent people in the capital city of Beijing with live ammunition. The armed forces aimed their guns at them and even drove tanks to crush the crowd, killing and injuring thousands.
This government-led massacre caught Beijing residents completely off guard. At around 10 p.m. on June 3, under cover of darkness, martial law troops rode tanks and armored vehicles from all directions toward Tiananmen Square. On their way, they sprayed students and residents with gunfire and chased after those trying to escape, leaving heavy casualties in their wake. Early the next morning, on June 4, when student protestors evacuated from the square in files and walked to Liubukou in Xidan, the army unleashed poisonous tear gas with paralyzing nerve agents, causing the students and residents at the scene to collapse on the ground, unable to move due to difficulty breathing and a feeling of suffocation. A row of tanks ran over the fallen crowd, killing or seriously injuring more than ten students on the spot.
Among the 203 victims we have found so far are 61 undergraduate and graduate students from various universities, 14 elementary and middle school students, and 14 missing persons. The youngest was only 9 and the oldest 66.
In April and May 1989, millions of students and common people joined marches, petitions, and protests, exercising the rights conferred to Chinese citizens under the Constitution and the law—these were lawful acts that did not violate the Constitution whatsoever. From beginning to end, the movement upheld the principles of peace, rationality, and non-violence. Up until the military crackdown, the entire social order had been stable. This stability was conscientiously maintained by the students and other members of the public in the nation’s capital. The students and the public in the demonstrations were simply demanding an end to corruption and official malfeasance, freedom of speech, disclosure of officials' assets, and the establishment of a mechanism for civil society to monitor the integrity of government officials. None of these demands deviated from the constitutional framework. When the two sides disagreed, the protestors did nothing more than ask the government for a reasonable resolution within the scope of the Constitution and the law: through the legal process, consultation, and dialogue.
But the ruling CPC and the Chinese government completely ignored the people’s reasonable demands and chose a course of action completely contrary to modern civilization. They abused their power to savagely and brutally kill and crush their own citizens with bullets and tanks, and subsequently launched a fascist-like nationwide probe, hurling the whole society into a state of terror and putting everyone in danger.
We cannot help but ask: Did the student movement, which merely offered suggestions to help the ruling party and government to serve the people with greater integrity, really warrant military suppression and arbitrary killing of innocent citizens? As the student protests spread from Beijing to the whole country, they became a way for the people to express their good wishes for the government. And what is your definition of “the people”? Do the people become the enemy once they put forth a recommendation? The Chinese ruling party and government then went on to absolve themselves from their murderous crime and responsibility under the guise of “quelling counter-revolutionary riots”—isn’t it too cruel?
Sending the army to slaughter students and civilians in peacetime is undeniably an atrocity against humanity. In the face of the vibrant lives shot to death in the June Fourth massacre, the unilateral, fact-denying characterization and rhetoric of China's ruling party and government are pale and devoid of humanity. They will not withstand the test of history.
Over the past 33 years, 64 members of our group of bereaved family members of June Fourth victims have passed away. This year we have had two more deaths, Yin Min and Liu Qian. Liu, the oldest member of our group, died in late April this year, at the age of 97.
Seeking government accountability for the massacre in accordance with the law is our legitimate right. For 33 years, we have been pursuing the three demands of “truth, compensation, and accountability” in a peaceful and rational manner, calling for a dialogue with the government through the legal process to resolve the issues related to the June Fourth massacre.
We appeal to your conscience on behalf of the families of those killed. For fairness and justice, we will persevere.